Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Voted YES on H.R. 4909, the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act
This week the House passed legislation that provides funding to states for gun violence prevention programs in schools.
The bill targets curbing gun violence in schools by providing more training for school officials and local law enforcement to respond to mental health crises, and resources to develop anonymous reporting systems for threats and deterrent measures like metal detectors and locks. None of these funds in the bill may be used to provide firearms or firearms training to teachers or school personnel.
This bill takes a few steps forward to create safer school environments. What Congress still must do is ban assault weapons, close loopholes and establish a universal background check system in our country so guns can be kept out of the hands of criminals.
Voted NO on the ‘Right to Try’ Act of 2018
I’ve always believed in a terminally ill patient’s right to try experimental drugs not yet approved for public use by the FDA. I also believe that the FDA plays a critical role in ensuring that drugs are safe and effective before they become widely used. This week I made the difficult decision to vote against legislation that would provide terminally ill patients with the right to try experimental drugs because the bill was deficient in important areas.
The FDA currently approves 99 percent of all requests for investigational drugs that it receives, so seriously ill patients can and do access these drugs today. I voted against the bill because it does nothing to address the true barrier to expanded access: the manufacturer’s authority to deny patients the right to try their drugs. Nothing in the legislation compels a manufacturer to grant access upon request.
I expressed my willingness and interest in working with my colleagues across the aisle on ‘right to try’ legislation, however, this bill was introduced in the dark of night days before it was scheduled for a vote. Ultimately, the legislation failed by a vote of 259-140 because of the risks it poses to patient safety and the poor process it underwent. Congress should strengthen the bill and pass it in a timely way.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to House Leadership Urging them to Extend the Perkins Loan Program
I’m part of a bipartisan group of Members who wrote to House leadership, urging them to extend the Perkins Loan Program for two years. This important student loan program was unnecessarily allowed to expire in September 2017, leaving hundreds of thousands of students and their families wondering how they’d make up the gap to pay for higher education during the 2018-2019 school year. The extension we’re requesting would allow Perkins Loans to continue while the House and the Senate finish their work on a full reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
In the last academic year alone, more than 420,000 students received a Perkins Loan to help pay for college. If the Perkins Loan program is eliminated, students across the country will be unable to access much-needed financial aid to pursue higher education and get the training they need to keep our economy strong.
BRAVO to the thousands of students in my Congressional District and across the country who were part of the ‘Walk-Out’ this week, demanding Congress take action to pass sensible gun violence legislation. I’m so proud of their inspirational leadership and courage. I think the students are taking our country to a higher level of morality.
In the Words of My Constituents
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:
· 419 constituents wrote to me in opposition of the House Intelligence Committee ending its Russia investigation
· 140 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the President’s proposed funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency
· 137 constituents wrote to me in support of the Dream Act.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times Op-Ed - “Dear National Rifle Association: We Won’t Let You Win. From, Teenagers”
This open letter to the NRA from three high school students captures the momentum that students are generating to end gun violence in our country.
New York Times Op-Ed- “Good Leaders Make Good Schools”
This beautiful column written by David Brooks is a great read about how Principals are improving schools in our country. He lists various studies showing that there isn’t a single case of a school improving its student achievement record without the presence of a talented Principal.
New York Times - “Congress Quashed Research Into Gun Violence. Since Then, 600,000 People Have Been Shot”
In 1996, I voted against the Dickey Amendment which stripped funding for research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) into the underlying causes of gun violence. This New York Times piece explains how this law has prevented the federal government from developing data which is fundamental to finding solutions and prevention methods to gun violence.
You can find more press releases, commentary and information on issues at my website, eshoo.house.gov. And please visit Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to stay informed.