Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
The House concluded its Session today and will be in recess for two weeks for Easter and Passover. I will resume sending my newsletter when we reconvene the week of April 9th.
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Voted YES on the Omnibus Bill
This is a massive bill that funds the entire federal government through September 30th, the end of the fiscal year of 2018. Democrats won significant victories on critical investments across many sectors, but my biggest disappointment is that the DACA issue was purposefully excluded from the legislation, leaving hundreds of thousands of young people in a state of anxiety and fear.
Some highlights of the bill include:
· Funding for the electrification of Caltrain, a project that is now underway. I’ve worked for more than six years to make the modernization of Caltrain a reality, and I consider this a major victory for my constituents and the people of the South Bay.
· Increased funding for programs at the FDA, CDC and the Department of Justice to respond to the opioid crisis.
· Increased funding of $3 billion for research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a huge victory.
· Two bills I wrote were included in the Omnibus: ‘Dig Once’ and the RESPONSE Act. Both are commonsense and won’t cost a dime. My ‘Dig Once’ policy mandates the inclusion of broadband conduit (plastic pipes which house fiber-optic communications cable) during the construction of any road receiving federal funding, rather than tearing up roads later to install it. This will significantly reduce the cost of increasing Internet access to underserved communities across the country.
The RESPONSE Act ensures that first responders will finally have precise location technology so that when someone is on the 20th floor of a hotel or the 30th story of an office building and they dial 9-1-1, their exact location can be determined so that emergency personnel can get to them. This is not available in our country today.
· Legislation to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This is only a first step to ensure guns do not end up in the hands of criminals, but it’s better than nothing.
· $1.6 billion for border security, which includes physical barriers but prohibits concrete walls.
· $47 million increase in funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E continues to provide breakthrough energy research every day. As one of the original creators of ARPA-E, the mission is to keep the U.S. at the forefront of alternative energy solutions. The President’s budget eliminated ARPA-E, so this is a great victory… saving it and funding it with an increase.
· Increased funding for the National Science Foundation, federal highway grants, the EPA, early childhood education programs, and our National Parks.
· Increased funding of $7 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical services, mental health, medical and prosthetic research, and opioid abuse services.
Launched a Discharge Petition, a procedural tool allowing a majority of the House (218) to force a vote on any bill— on the Special Counsel Integrity Act
I signed Discharge Petition on this bipartisan legislation to protect Special Counsel Mueller from being inappropriately removed from office. This bill prohibits the removal of a special counsel without cause, such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflicts of interest.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Introduced H.R. 5331, the Foreign Entities Reform Act of 2018 (FERA)
In January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian-sponsored news network RT (formerly Russia Today) influenced our 2016 elections by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to international audiences. Since this damning report, I have written to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman five times, urging him to investigate and apply transparency requirements to RT, but to no avail.
This week I introduced the Foreign Entities Reform Act of 2018 (FERA), which requires broadcast, cable, and satellite companies to publicly disclose the transmission of registered foreign state-funded content that is being distributed to American consumers.
The FCC currently has “political file” requirements for broadcast, cable, and satellite transmissions. American content providers are required to publish information regarding the source and funding of political advertisements to the public. Using that same rationale, my bill applies similar disclosure principles and reporting requirements for broadcasters, cable, or satellite entities when they air or transmit content coming from foreign agents registered under the Federal Agents Registration Act (FARA).
(FARA requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.)
In light of the revelations that RT, a foreign agent propaganda machine, was being distributed over American airwaves, I think it is essential for the American people to know exactly who is broadcasting to them, especially when the programming is coming from foreign agents. An informed electorate is essential in a democracy and the intent of my bill is to empower citizens to think critically and decide for themselves who is speaking to them and whether they can trust the information carried over our most foundational media outlets. This is about transparency, not censorship.
Cosponsored H.R. 5011, the Election Security Act
This week I cosponsored the Election Security Act, legislation that authorizes $1 billion in grants to assist states in securing their election infrastructure. Election officials can use this grant to: replace aging voting machines with new machines that create a paper record of each voter’s ballot; cover the costs of hiring IT staff; cybersecurity training; security and risk vulnerability assessments; and other steps to secure election infrastructure.
We must do everything we can to ensure that our elections remain free, fair and secure.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai on the Lifeline Program
This week I led a letter signed by over 60 House members to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to protect the Lifeline program which provides access to phone and broadband services to over 13 million low-income Americans, the majority of whom earn less than $10,000 a year.
The FCC recently voted 3 to 2 on party lines to proceed with a new proposal that will make it more difficult for eligible households to attain Lifeline’s services, removing nearly 8 million current participants out of the program. Millions of Americans use their devices to find jobs, schedule doctor’s appointments, complete their school assignments, communicate with their loved ones and have access to 9-1-1 for emergencies. Our letter urges the Chairman to abandon his proposal. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
Letter to President Trump on the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review
Last month the Trump Administration released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), describing the role the Administration envisions for nuclear weapons in U.S. national security and the specific weapons systems it believes are necessary to support that posture. I’m very concerned with the Administration’s NPR because it further expands our nation’s arsenal far beyond what is required to maintain a credible deterrent. My highest responsibility as a Member of Congress is to protect our national security. The Administration’s NPR is deeply troubling because it could spark a new nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia.
I joined colleagues this week in sending a letter to President Trump to express our opposition to his approach, saying that it imposes significant economic burdens and undermines decades of U.S. leadership to prevent the use and spread of nuclear weapons. We should maintain an effective nuclear deterrent without wasting taxpayer dollars, inciting a new arms race, or risking nuclear conflict.
It was wonderful to meet with students from Cañada College this week. We talked about their college experience and how community colleges are an integral part of our education system in America. The students hail from countries across the globe, including El Salvador and Zimbabwe. Some are first generation college students and they all have big dreams. They certainly inspired me!
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:
· 424 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 in the News
Frequently, Anna’s work is written about in the news. Here are some excerpts:
Broadcasting and Cable- “Eshoo to FCC: Rescind Spectrum Sales to AT&T, Verizon”
“Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wants the FCC to rethink its approval of deals putting high-band spectrum in the hands of AT&T and Verizon. That came in a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai.
“The FCC's Wireless Bureau approved the transfer of millimeter-band (high-band) spectrum licenses from Straight Path to Verizon and FiberTower to AT&T in settlements with those companies for not building out the spectrum as they agreed to do when they acquired it.
“Eshoo said the deals put too much valuable spectrum in the hands of companies that already had a lot, and that the FCC should have revoked the spectrum licenses of Straight Path and FiberTower and auctioned them rather than reward those companies with billions of dollars from the sales. Verizon paid more than $3 billion and AT&T about $2 billion for the spectrum, according to Eshoo, though that is using the same valuation as Straight Path.”
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times Op-Ed (3/19/18) - “What Holds America Together”- David Brooks
This beautiful piece gives me hope for our country during these dark times. He writes that despite our differences in this country, we still devote our lives to the same experiment, the American experiment to serve as a model for all humankind.
New York Times Op-Ed (3/20/18) - “What Trump and Putin Have in Common” – Thomas Friedman
This fascinating Op-Ed compares the personalities of President Trump and President Putin of Russia, saying they are cut from the same cloth. Their strategy is: keep pushing, keep grabbing, keep lying, and never apologize.
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.