Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Highlights of Legislation the House Took up This Week
Voted NO on the H.R. 2, the Farm Bill
This week the House rejected the Farm Bill, legislation that sets policy for farming, conservation and nutrition programs in our country. One of my top priorities in this bill is to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from funding cuts because it provides much needed food assistance to more than 41 million very low-income Americans, including 24,000 in our Congressional District. Most recipients are children, the disabled or elderly, with the average recipient receiving $126 per month, or $1.40 per meal.
This year’s Farm Bill cuts SNAP benefits by $23 billion and creates more stringent work requirements, even for those with small children or those nearing retirement age. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), these changes will deny food assistance to more than one million hungry Americans over the next decade. I think this is bad policy and just plain wrong. Hopefully, a better bill will be brought to the Floor because farming, conservation and nutrition programs are too important to be ignored.
Launched a Discharge Petition on Net Neutrality- a procedural tool to force a vote on any bill if 218 Members sign on
The American people were handed a major victory this week when the Senate voted and passed bipartisan legislation to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of net neutrality.
The fight now moves to the House of Representatives. I signed a Discharge Petition this week to force a vote on legislation to fully restore the 2015 Open Internet Order (net neutrality) which prohibits Internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or discriminating against content online.
The Internet is the greatest invention since the printing press. The free and open Internet drives jobs, the free market, and our democracy. It’s the backbone of our economy and it belongs to us, not the largest Internet Service Providers and cable companies. I continue to do everything I can to get this over the finish line in the House.
Voted NO on H.R. 5674, the VA MISSION Act
This week the House passed H.R. 5674, the VA MISSION Act.
This was a very tough vote for me. I voted ‘no’ even though the legislation has many good provisions in it. However, the specter of privatizing the entire Veterans Health Administration and putting all 170 VA medical centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics at risk of being shut down (including the two medical centers in our Congressional District) outweighed all other provisions. The bill also threatens future funding for veterans’ care by providing only one year of appropriations for the newly consolidated Veterans Choice Program above strict budgetary caps in place under current law which could trigger automatic spending cuts to other VA programs. The legislation expands caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans which I support, but the bill does far more to damage our world class Veterans health care system than to improve it.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Cosponsored H.R. 3776, the Executive Cyberspace Coordination Act of 2018
In 2017 the Director of National Intelligence identified cyberattacks as the top threat to U.S. national security, yet this week the White House eliminated the position of Cybersecurity Coordinator, the only official responsible for organizing cybersecurity efforts across the government.
The Executive Cyberspace Coordination Act creates a permanent cyber advisory position by consolidating cybersecurity policy responsibilities in a National Office for Cyberspace in the Executive Office of the President. A coordinated effort to keep our information systems safe is paramount if we’re going to counter the cyber threats posed by foes. To do anything less is a direct threat to national security.
Cosponsored H.R. 5814, the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act
In our Congressional District and across the country, dedicated teachers take on the daily challenge of educating our young people and inspiring them to reach their full potential. Because of tight classroom budgets, limited education resources and low pay, educators take hundreds of dollars out of their pockets to purchase supplies for their students to ensure every child has the resources they need to learn and succeed. According to a 2016 survey by Scholastic, the education publishing and Media Company, K-12 public-school teachers spent an average of $530 of their own money in the previous year for classroom or student use.
To ease this burden on teachers, I cosponsored the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act to increase the current annual deduction available to educators from $250 to $500, and index it to inflation.
Policy Letters Anna Cosigned this Week
Letter to Department of Homeland Security on Work Authorization of H-4 Dependent Spouses
I joined colleagues in writing to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, urging her to maintain the current regulation granting work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrant workers employed by U.S. companies in specialty occupations. This follows a similar letter I sent to Secretary Nielson in March opposing any attempts to weaken or eliminate the H-4 program. The Trump Administration is expected to rescind the rule granting these spouses work authorization in June.
The opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work has made our economy stronger, and provides relief and economic support to thousands of spouses (mostly women) who have resided in the United States for years. Many are on the path to permanent residency and would already be permanent residents if not for the decades-long employment backlogs. Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
It was wonderful to join Senate colleagues at a press conference to celebrate the bipartisan passage of legislation to save net neutrality.
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:
· 257 constituents wrote to in opposition to the President withdrawing from the Iran nuclear Agreement
· 168 constituents wrote to me in opposition of the anti-environmental provisions in the Farm Bill
· 46 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cuts in the Farm Bill
· 20 fifth graders from De Vargas Elementary School in San Jose wrote to me about issues they care about, including climate change, affordable housing, the cost of higher education, and criminal justice reform.
Anna in the News
Anna’s work is written about in the news. Here are some excerpts:
San Jose Mercury News (5/16/18) - “In close vote, Senate throws net neutrality a lifeline”
“Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, called the [net neutrality] vote a “delicious victory.”
“Fundamentally, this is about ensuring we are the individuals that decide what we want to hear, what we want to watch, what we want to play, what we want to read,” said Eshoo, who has advocated for net neutrality for so long that she’s known as the “godmother of net neutrality” in the House, during Wednesday’s press conference.”
Associated Press (5/16/18) – “Emergency 911 Technology Struggles to Keep up With the Times”
“Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents California's Silicon Valley, has been on a mission to modernize call centers since seeing one up close during an earthquake when she was on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Her worries only grew after the 9/11 attacks.
“She's visited all the call centers in her district and, she said, "the smaller ones, especially rural areas, you walk in and it looks like 1952 because they're not funded the way they should be. They need to be upgraded."
“In December, she submitted legislation that would direct federal funds to state and local governments to allow them to upgrade their systems to "Next Generation 911."
Anna’s Recommended Reading
I frequently articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times Op-Ed (5/11/18) - “As He Lay Dying”
This beautiful Op-Ed from Timothy Egan pays an eloquent tribute to Senator John McCain’s great service to our nation. It’s more than worth the read.
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.