Anna's Weekly Update

May 17, 2019

Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week

Bicameral Democratic Press Conference

This week I spoke at a bicameral press conference that highlighted the importance of protecting people with pre-existing conditions, and what actions Democrats are taking on health care and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. We called on the Senate to take up legislation on health care and drug pricing. You can watch my remarks HERE.

Voted YES on The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act 

The House voted to pass the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. This bill makes critical improvements to our health care system, including:

  • Lowering the soaring price of prescription drugs by closing loopholes to prevent drug manufacturers from gaming the system and to allow generic drugs to come to market more quickly;

  • Cracking down on ‘junk insurance plans’ which discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and do not cover essential benefits; and

  • Reversing the Trump Administration’s health care sabotage and helping states to set up their own marketplaces to expand coverage and lower costs; reinforcing the Navigator program that helps families enroll in affordable coverage; and restoring funding for outreach and enrollment education efforts.

Seven of the provisions included in the legislation originated in the Health Subcommittee which I’m proud to chair: four bills bolster the Affordable Care Act and three lower the price of prescription drugs. 

Voted YES on The Equality Act 

There are 29 states that allow discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, and 30 states allow these forms of discrimination based on gender identity. Recent national surveys of the LGBTQ community show 42 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, and 78 percent of transgender people have experienced discrimination or harassment on the job because of who they are.

It was quite a moment on the Floor of the House when we passed the Equality Act which ensures that all LGBTQ Americans are guaranteed the most basic human rights no matter where they live, work, or attend school. The House Gallery was full and there was a burst of applause when the legislation passed. The bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other existing laws to ensure that LGBTQ individuals are afforded the same protections against discrimination as every other American. There is nothing “special” about the protections created by the Equality Act. The bill simply embodies the longstanding American principle that individuals should be judged on their merits, not their identity.

Voted YES on The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act 

The House unanimously passed legislation to extend disability and health benefits to U.S. Navy veterans who served offshore during the Vietnam War and were exposed to Agent Orange, a dioxin-laden herbicide that has been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Under current policy, veterans who served aboard aircraft carriers, destroyers, and other ships do not receive the same disability benefits as veterans who served on the ground. The Blue Water Navy Veterans Actensures Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive fair benefits for their service and sacrifice. It’s about time we make this right.

Legislation Anna Cosponsored this Week

Introduced The Next Generation 9-1-1 Act 

Communications have changed dramatically since the first 9-1-1 call was placed fifty years ago, but emergency call centers haven’t kept pace with these innovations. Over 75 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, but our aging 9-1-1 systems are not equipped with the best technology available to accommodate them.

I introduced the bipartisan Next Generation 9-1-1 Act to authorize $12 billion in federal funding to help state and local governments deploy Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 systems across the country. The upgrades are urgently needed to help move the country’s legacy 9-1-1 call centers into the digital age, enabling them to handle text messages, pictures, videos, and other information sent by smartphones, tablets, and other devices when faced with an emergency. The legislation also provides technical assistance and training, and ensures 9-1-1 is kept under state and local control.

Introduced Three Bills to Expand Broadband Access 

Broadband access is an integral part of today’s modern infrastructure and it is as essential to our economy as the roads and bridges that connect us. Despite efforts to expand broadband, over 21 million people still do not have access to high speed internet. 

This week I reintroduced three bills to cut down on the time and cost of deploying new broadband infrastructure and to empower communities to advance broadband deployment and expansion, and they are:

  • The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act, commonly ‘dig once,’ is bicameral, bipartisan legislation that mandates the inclusion of conduit—plastic pipes which house fiberoptic cables—during road construction receiving federal funding.

  • The Community Broadband Act is bicameral legislation that removes roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband systems.

  • The Clearing Local Impediments Makes Broadband Open to New Competition and Enhancements (CLIMB ONCE) Act helps local communities streamline the pole attachment process to make the deployment of broadband faster, cheaper, and more competitive.

Introduced The Better Military Housing Act 

More than half of military families who responded to a recent survey about their privatized housing on military bases reported having a negative experience. Some families reported living with problems such as black mold, lead paint, lead in their water, and a wide variety of vermin and bugs. This is unacceptable for the men and women serving in our military and their families, including those living in privatized military housing in Mountain View at Moffett Field. 

The Better Military Housing Act requires the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan that makes it easier for servicemembers and their families to report problems with their housing. The legislation also improves oversight of the private companies that manage military housing and creates standardized health, safety, and quality metrics for private military housing.

Cosponsored The LIFT America Act 

This important bill—the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act—provides more than $122 billion to rebuild America through investments in combating climate change, expanding broadband access, and protecting public health and the environment. Among the many areas of investment, the bill funds:

  • Over $33 billion for clean energy, including $4 billion to upgrade the U.S. electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy and make it more resilient;

  • More than $21 billion to protect Americans’ drinking water, including $2.5 billion to establish a new grant program allowing PFAS-affected communities to filter the toxic chemicals out of their water supplies;

  • $40 billion for the deployment of secure and resilient high-speed broadband internet service to expand access for communities nationwide and bring broadband to 98 percent of the country; and

  • $2 billion in funding to reauthorize the Hill-Burton hospital infrastructure program, including targeted assistance to support cybersecurity in the health system.

Weekly Highlights

I challenged the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, for failing to address the scourge of robocalls, and neglecting his duty to implement the Lifeline Program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. You can watch the hearing HERE.

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Stanford Government Lecture Series last Monday, and loved engaging with undergraduate students about the challenges of Congressional policymaking.

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. Year to date, over 42,000 constituents contacted me, and since April, 13,830 constituents contacted me. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments. This week, 1,810 constituents contacted our office, including:

  • 419 constituents wrote to me with concerns about the Mueller Report and impeachment

  • 181 constituents wrote to me about the Equality Act

  • 154 constituents wrote to me about concerns of potential war with Iran and the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act

Anna’s Recommended Reading and Watching

Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from. 

Washington Post Editorial (5/15/2019) – “Wake up, Republicans. Even corporations are calling for action on climate change.

The Washington Post Editorial Board notes that several groups representing corporations and even some oil companies have begun calling for action on climate change. In the face of decades-worth of overwhelming evidence, we need bipartisan action of Congress and the White House to address global warming.