Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Highlights of Legislation the House Took up This Week
Package of Bipartisan Opioid-Related Bills
This week the House passed over thirty bipartisan bills to address the opioid epidemic in our country, and they will be included in a larger package of legislation to be considered by the House next week. I voted for the bills but I’m disappointed overall because collectively they represent small steps to prevent opioid addiction to help those afflicted by it. This legislative package also comes on the heels of the Administration’s attempts to severely scale back two major programs that provide the resources for addiction treatment: the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid.
The most important step to combat opioid addiction is to significantly expand access to treatment. Only 10 to 15 percent of those suffering from opioid addiction are currently receiving treatment. With over 40,000 people dying from an opioid overdose every year, this is a true crisis calls for bold action similar to the response to the AIDS crisis. We should also invest in research to produce non-addictive pain medications, create more disposal sites for unwanted drugs, fund community recovery sites, and strengthen regulations regarding the prescription of opioids.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Introduced H.R. 6085, Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act
In 2006, I shepherded the PREEMIE Act into law. This helped researchers and doctors identify the causes of premature births and work to prevent them. Because of this legislation, the number of preterm births decreased from 2007 to 2014, but they have begun to rise again.
To help reduce infant deaths related to premature birth, I’ve introduced the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act. This bipartisan legislation will specifically expand research, education and intervention activities aimed at preventing premature births. To read more about the legislation, CLICK HERE.
Cosponsored H.R. 4253, the American Promise Act
The Administration recently announced it would end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for foreign nationals from six countries comprising nearly all current TPS recipients. TPS is a special status granted to foreign nationals from specific countries for whom returning to their home countries would pose a serious threat to their personal safety. The decision means that over 200,000 Salvadoran, 5,000 Nicaraguan, and 57,000 Honduran nationals will lose their right to live and work in the U.S., many of whom have lived here for over 15 years and have children who are U.S. citizens.
This legislation addresses individuals who have resided in the U.S. under this program for at least three years can remain in the country and pursue a path to citizenship. These families have fled natural disasters and political conflict at great personal risk.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned this Week
Letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Media Consolidation
Earlier this year FCC Chairman Pai reinstated an outdated FCC rule called the ‘UHF discount’ that creates a loophole in the FCC’s current limits on how much a single media company can own. These ownership limits are essential to preserving local and diverse content for consumers and preventing media consolidation. The loophole paves the way for Sinclair Broadcast to acquire Tribune Media Company in an unprecedented move that would give Sinclair control of 73 percent of the market in the U.S., the largest broadcast company in the country. It jeopardizes the future of the country’s media and the integrity of our broadcast media. I believe that in a democracy, there should be many voices to the many.
The ‘UHF discount’ rule is currently being challenged in court. If the challenge succeeds and the rule is thrown out, the FCC will have to reject the Sinclair deal. This week, I led over 40 House colleagues in writing to Chairman Pai, urging him to delay his decision on the Sinclair merger until the court decides whether the UHF loophole is legal. I believe this $3.9 billion dollar deal is bad for America, and I will continue to fight it every way I can. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
Letter to FCC Chairman Pai on Robocalls
No one should be subjected to harassing robocalls, whether they come from a government contractor or anyone else. Congress took action to crack down on these unwanted calls through the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), but a provision in the Budget Act of 2015 rolled back important consumer protections, allowing debt collectors to resume robocalling those who have a debt owed or guaranteed by the federal government. According to Youmail, a robocall blocking service, this type of robocall constitutes 32 percent of the 4.1 billion calls dialed in May of 2018.
I joined colleagues this week on a bipartisan, bicameral letter to FCC Chairman Pai, urging the FCC to use their power to put in place consumer safeguards against the nuisance of federal debt collectors that the 2015 Budget Act exemption enabled.
I’ve also introduced legislation, the HANGUP Act, to restore these critical protections for consumers. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE. To read more about the HANGUP Act, CLICK HERE.
Letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Affordable Family Housing
Home ownership lies at the center of the American Dream. That’s why in July 2016, Congress enacted legislation directing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to adopt new rules to ease onerous restrictions on FHA loans to finance condominium purchases. In September 2016, FHA published its proposed rule implementing the direction of Congress. The proposal authorizes single unit approval loans and relaxes burdensome condominium certification requirements. The new rule will help more families, especially first-time homebuyers.
Unfortunately, FHA has not finalized this important rule to empower greater access to condominium ownership. I joined several House colleagues this week in a letter to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, asking him to move quickly to finalize the rule so that condominium ownership will be more affordable.
This week I held a Town Hall Meeting with constituents in La Honda to discuss issues they care about. Over 100 attended, and the questions ranged from immigration, global warming, gun violence, pushing back against the current Administration’s dangerous policies, and FEMA policies related to last year’s significant storm damage to La Honda roads and homes.
At a ‘markup’ of various bills in the Communications and Technology Subcommittee this week, I spoke in support of legislation that will create a universal three-digit number for people in our country to dial if they need the help of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
I’ve long been a champion for mental health since my service on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, and have learned that when someone is struggling mentally, reaching out for help can seem to be the hardest thing to do. This legislation will make access to critical services as simple as possible. I know how much this bill will mean to my constituents and to the people who love them, and I’m proud to support it. The legislation passed out of the Subcommittee.
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 a wide range of legislation and policies. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response from me regarding their specific questions and comments.
Here’s a snapshot of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
· 303 constituents wrote to me to express their support for net neutrality.
· 101 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the Trump Administration policy of separating children from their families at the border.
· 71 constituents wrote to me to express their support for the EPA’s BEACH Act program, which helps cities and states ensure that the water at beaches is safe for recreation.
· 14 students from Henry Gunn High School wrote to me about topics they care about, including gun violence, health care, the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and increasing voter turnout.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
I frequently read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times Op-Ed (6/13/18) “AT&T: Big Business Gets Bigger”
This week a federal judge approved the AT&T/Time Warner Merger, a decision I believe is anti-consumer and opens the doors for more consolidation in the media industry. This Op-Ed from David Leonhardt explains why this decision hurts consumers.
Washington Post Editorial (6/12/18) “No More Concessions”
This Editorial explains how the Singapore Summit was a victory for the North Korean Regime, not the United States. Trump offered the North Korean dictator a major concession, the suspension of U.S. military exercises with South Korea. Mr. Kim, meanwhile did not commit to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization the United States has demanded — nor to any other change in his regime’s criminal behavior.
New York Times Editorial (6/11/18) “America Isolated”
At the Group of 7 meeting in Canada last weekend, the President alienated America’s closest neighbors and allies. This Editorial explains how the President has transformed “America First” into “America Alone.”
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.