Anna's Weekly Update
Once again our country endured the horrific news of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I think all of our hearts and minds are with the parents filled with unimaginable sorrow who lost their children.
When will too much become too much in order for Congress to do something about the senseless killings in our country from guns? There is bipartisan gun safety legislation pending, yet the Speaker of the House will not allow a vote on it. And the killing goes on.
Release of the President’s Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2019
This week the President released his fiscal year 2019 budget. It damages lives by eliminating key programs that are vital to the economic security of families, adds to our debt by failing to balance the budget, and diminishes America’s future by zeroing out key scientific investments in science and research.
The budget calls for $1.66 trillion in mandatory spending cuts over a decade, including cuts to Medicaid and Medicare; conservation programs; student loan repayment programs; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and Supplemental Security Income benefits and Disability Insurance, to name a few.
The budget also calls for the elimination of several programs that I’ve championed over the years, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E); the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities; the National Endowment for the Arts; and HUD Community Development Block Grants (these grants were highly effective for building low income and senior housing during my service on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors).
A budget is not only a hefty compilation of numbers. It’s a statement of our national values, but the President’s budget falls woefully short in fiscal sustainability; middle class workers and their families; investments in our economy; or stable, long-term funding certainty for our military and national security agencies
President’s Proposal for an Infrastructure Plan
The President also proposed a national infrastructure plan, calling for a $200 billion federal investment in our infrastructure in order to leverage an additional $1.3 trillion in funds from private investors and state and local governments. There is strong bipartisan agreement that we need to invest in our infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that $4.6 trillion in investment is needed by 2025 to bring U.S. infrastructure to a state of ‘good repair,’ or what they refer to as a ‘B+’ rating. However, the President’s plan provides no new funding to address the urgent needs of the country, shifting monies from existing infrastructure programs and grants to finance his plan.
The proposal drastically changes the partnership between the federal government and the states. Today, the federal government provides about 80% of funding for highways and 50% for mass transit projects. In the President’s plan, half of the proposed federal investment would go toward new competitive grant programs that prioritize projects that can provide dedicated revenue, such as tolls and local taxes. No project could receive more than 20% of its funding from this grant. This places a much greater burden on states at a time when they lack the funding necessary to finance important projects. Creating more toll roads and raising local taxes aren’t exactly a popular pair.
I think a more prudent approach would be to establish a National Infrastructure Bank, and I’m a cosponsor of H.R. 547, the legislation to create one. Such a bank would offer loans and loan guarantees, issue bonds, and offer subsidies to assist state and local governments to cover interest payments on some of their infrastructure bonds. These various tools would allow the Bank to leverage its initial $25 billion capitalization into more than $500 billion in public and private infrastructure investment. With interest rates near zero and our infrastructure failing nationwide, now is the time to make long-term investments in our future. Infrastructure investment creates good jobs that cannot be outsourced, and it has long-term benefits to our local communities, to transportation systems, energy, commerce, the environment, and telecommunications infrastructure (broadband).
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Voted NO on H.R. 620, the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act
This week I voted against the ADA Education and Reform Act which amends the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. This legislation eliminates the requirements for businesses to be ADA access compliant, and erects barriers for people who want to assure that their ADA rights are respected in the United States. Businesses will no longer need to be proactive to assure accessibility for the public.
I believe strongly in the enforcement of the ADA, but this bill will unnecessarily limit those with disabilities from vindicating their rights in court and will result in reduced compliance of the law. While I think the authors of the bill intended to limit the number “drive-by” lawsuits that spuriously target businesses for purported ADA violations, these restrictions and penalties would have negative consequences on the implementation of the ADA as it was intended.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Net Neutrality Comments
This week I joined colleagues in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking a series of questions regarding how the FCC reviewed and considered the record 24 million public comments in its proceedings to repeal net neutrality. The FCC’s Order gave scant detail about how it approached its unprecedented docket.
With the record number of public comments and millions of comments considered fake, including submissions from Russian email addresses, I think it’s important to know how the agency reviewed the public’s feedback. The FCC bears the burden of demonstrating that its analysis is supported by the record, but to date the agency has not properly explained how it came to the result it did. For instance, the final Order repealing net neutrality does not cite a single consumer comment filed in the record, while it emphasized filings from a handful of companies. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
Energy and Commerce Committee Markup
This week the Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup and voted on several important bipartisan bills. I’m so proud that bipartisan legislation I authored were included in the markup and unanimously approved by the Committee.
Two of my bills, the RESPONSE Act and the FCC Collaboration Act were included in the FCC Reauthorization Act of 2018. The RESPONSE Act requires the FCC to conclude a proceeding requiring all Multi-Line Telephone Systems to provide first responders with the precise location of a 9-1-1 caller. This will ensure that anyone dialing 9-1-1 from a multi-line telephone system in a 20-story hotel or 30-story office building will have their specific location sent to first responders. Every second counts in lives saved in emergencies, and location technology is essential for first responders.
The FCC Collaboration Act allows for a bipartisan majority of commissioners to meet for collaborative discussions as long as they disclose such meetings. Simple collaboration, discussion of issues, and shared expertise outside an official setting are essential in order for the Commission to keep up with the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape. This is the fourth Congress I’ve introduced this bill (eight years.) Tenacity counts!
Telephone Town Hall Meetings
This week I held two Tele-Town Hall Meetings with constituents from communities in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to discuss issues they care about. Approximately 2,000 constituents participated in each Meeting and the questions ranged from the new tax law to the President’s budget proposal, protecting the DREAMers, the President’s infrastructure plan and the Special Counsel’s investigation. My constituents have consistently told me how valuable they think these meetings are, and I draw a great deal from what my constituents ask or comment on. My thanks to everyone who participated in the calls.
Meeting with Foothill Community College
Excellent meeting with the leadership at Foothill Community College this week to discuss the urgent need to protect the DREAMers, many of whom are students at the community college, who face deportation in the coming weeks. We also discussed the importance of job training for the 17,000 students enrolled at Foothill and what we can do in Congress to ensure students have the resources they need to be successful in their careers.
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:
- 269 constitutions wrote to me in support of renewable energy.
- 120 constituents wrote to me in support of net neutrality.
- 110 constituents wrote to me in opposition of H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times- “Donald Trump’s Nasty Budget”
On Monday, President Trump proposed a disastrous budget that would slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, transportation and other essential government services, all while increasing the federal deficit. This Editorial from the New York Times is a helpful read to understand the details of this budget.
Washington Post- “Here’s an idea for infrastructure week: Bring 911 into the 21st century”
Friday, February 16th marks the 50th anniversary of the first 9-1-1 emergency call placed in the United States, but we are still relying on technology that’s fifty years old. This Editorial from the Washington Post explains why Next Generation 9-1-1, an effort I’ve been pushing in Congress for many years, is essential for our public safety community.
This week Director of the Office of Budget and Management Mick Mulvaney said that the President’s budget and the recently passed tax law would not eliminate the federal budget deficit after 10 years. This is the Administration’s first public acknowledgement that large spending increases and the $1.5 trillion tax cut are putting severe pressure on the government’s debt. This article explains how the President’s budget does not balance the budget.