Anna's Weekly Update

November 15, 2019

Weekly Report From Your Congresswoman 

Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week

Public Hearings – Impeachment Inquiry

I had the opportunity to attend the House Intelligence Committee’s second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry today and witness history being made with the testimony of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. This week the American people had the opportunity to listen to Mr. George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy; Ambassador William B. Taylor, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine; and Ambassador Yovanovitch. You can read the opening statements of Mr. Kent (here), Ambassador Taylor (here), and Ambassador Yovanovitch (here) and watch footage of the hearings here.

I’ve also organized a timeline of the impeachment investigation on my website. As the House proceeds with its investigation to uncover the truth, I continue to uphold my duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Health Subcommittee Markup on Maternal Mortality, the Youth Tobacco Epidemic, and Drug Pricing

The Health Subcommittee I chair passed four bills to address public health crises, namely the high maternal mortality rate and the youth tobacco epidemic. Each year, 700 American women die and 50,000 women are severely injured due to complications related to childbirth. And e-cigarette vaping among young people is threatening to ensnare an entire generation of young Americans in nicotine addiction. The four bills my Subcommittee marked up and passed:

  • The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act extends restrictions on tobacco marketing, sale, flavors, and fees to e-cigarettes. It also makes a landmark change by raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years.

  • The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act funds and authorizes data-driven approaches to inform health care professionals about the best practices and protocols to manage a mother’s care in an emergency, and improves the quality of care that rural moms receive. 700 American women die due to complications related to childbirth every year, but the CDC estimates as much as 60% of these deaths could be prevented. If you’re a black woman in the U.S., it is even more dangerous to give birth. Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth than white women. This legislation will ensure every mom is given the care she deserves.

  • The Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act gives states the option to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to one year, protecting mothers in America who lack health insurance during the critical postpartum period.

  • The STOP GAMES Act clarifies the FDA’s authority to restrict pharmaceutical companies from using bad-faith, anticompetitive tactics to prevent cheaper generic drugs from coming to the market.

I look forward to the legislation advancing to the full Committee and then passing the House. You can watch my opening statement here.

Passed the TRUE Fees Act out of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee

The Communications and Technology Subcommittee passed my legislation, the Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees (‘TRUE Fees’) Act, which requires phone, cable, and internet providers to include all fees and charges in the prices they advertise for services. Consumer Reports estimates cable companies pocket an estimated $28 billion dollars a year by advertising one price to customers, but adding other charges to their bills. On average, they generate close to $450 per year per customer from company-imposed fees, excluding federal, state, and local taxes. My bill requires phone, cable, and internet providers to include fees, charges, and surcharges in the prices they advertise for service; allows customers to end their contract without early termination fees if their provider increases prices; and prevents hikes on equipment fees unless providers improve equipment. I’m happy for consumers that the TRUE Fees Act was passed by the Subcommittee and that the bill will now move to the full Committee and the full House.

Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week

The Online Privacy Act

On November 5, 2019, Rep. Zoe Lofgren and I introduced the Online Privacy Act. It is bold and comprehensive legislation to secure the privacy of every American. Today, the American people are left vulnerable as our private information is stolen, abused, breached, and grossly mishandled. Companies track and sell our most private data, such as our geolocation and the contents of our messages, and they face little or no consequences when they misuse our information.

Our legislation empowers Americans to control their own data and holds companies accountable.

  • Creating User Rights – The bill grants every American the right to access, correct, or delete their data. It also creates new rights, like the right to impermanence, which lets users decide how long companies can keep their data.

  • Placing Clear Obligations on Companies – The bill minimizes the amount of data companies collect, process, disclose, and maintain, and bars companies from using data in discriminatory ways. Additionally, companies must receive consent from users in plain, simple language.

  • Establishing a Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) – The bill establishes an independent agency led by a Director that’s appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a five-year term. The DPA will enforce privacy protections and investigate abuses.

  • Strengthening Enforcement – The bill empowers state attorneys general to enforce violations of the bill and allows individuals to appoint nonprofits to represent them in private class action lawsuits.

Together with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, I have worked for months to write comprehensive legislation, which is 132 pages long and has 58 sections. We consulted with over 100 stakeholders, including privacy advocates, public interest groups, academics, companies, and startups. We received nearly 600 pages of written feedback from these stakeholders which helped shape the bill as introduced.

Our bill received strong support from public interest organizations and privacy experts. You can read their endorsements here.

Five Bills to Address Excessive Airplane Noise

My Bay Area colleagues and I introduced five bills to mitigate the scourge of airplane noise that has had serious impacts on our community. The legislation provides new methods to mitigate airport noise, prioritize health impacts of noise, and improve community engagement. The five bills are:

  • Restore Everyone’s Sleep Tonight (REST) Act: Allows airports to voluntarily impose a curfew, under specified circumstances, at any time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

  • All Participating in Process Reaching Informed Solutions for Everyone (APPRISE) Act: Ensures that community knowledge and input is represented in the FAA flight procedure design process. An aviation roundtable technical representative will be allowed to fully participate in the FAA procedure design process for procedures affecting their communities.

  • Fairness in Airspace Includes Residents (F-AIR) Act: Amends the FAA’s prioritization of U.S. airspace use. Safety in managing U.S. airspace would remain the first priority. Secondary priorities would put noise and health impacts to residents and other environmental concerns on an equal basis with efficiency.

  • Responsive Employees Support Productive Educated Congressional Talk (RESPECT) Act: Requires FAA staff to answer questions submitted in writing by Members of Congress relating to flight procedures or other data affecting their district within 90 days and requires FAA staff to appear at a meeting or town hall with a Member of Congress with 30 days’ notice.

  • Notify Officials to Inform Fully and Impel Educated Decisions (NOTIFIED) Act: If the FAA proposes a new or modified flight path, it would be required to notify City Councils, Boards of Supervisors, Members of Congress, and Aviation Roundtables within 5 miles of the flight path in question.

Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned

Letter to DC Chief of Police and the State Department on Turkish President’s Visit

I joined 40 Members of Congress in sending two letters to ensure the safety of Americans demonstrating against Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s visit to the nation’s capital. The letters were sent to the U.S. State Department and the Metro Police Department of the District of Columbia requesting each entity protect Americans’ rights to assemble and speak out against Erdogan, as well as ensure their safety while doing so. In a previous visit by the Turkish President, his security detail attacked American protesters. This behavior is unacceptable, and the police and State Department must ensure the security and well-being of Americans who choose to protest the Erdogan regime’s record on human rights. You can read the letters here.

Weekly Highlights

Telephone Town Halls

This week I held two evening Tele-Town Hall Meetings with constituents from communities in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties.

Approximately 1,600 constituents participated in each meeting and they asked wide-ranging questions on climate change, impeachment, immigration, health care, secure elections, and more. Constituents consistently tell me how valuable they think these meetings are, and they are for me as well. My thanks to the over 3,200 people who participated in the calls. I will continue to make these calls on a consistent basis so my constituents can speak to me directly and have me answer their questions. To listen to previous Telephone Town Halls, click here.

Meeting with Members of the Armenian Parliament

I met with five Members of the Armenian Parliament in Washington, D.C. this week. It was a privilege to discuss with them the importance of the U.S.-Armenian relationship and the recent passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

Innovating for Impact Award

It was an honor to receive the Innovating for Impact “Congressional Champion” Award from the Global Health Technologies Coalition.  My legislation, the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act, and creating the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) was recognized for advancing products that protect U.S. health security interests and, by extension, bolster global health security.

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. So far this year, over 101,700 constituents have contacted me, and this month, 7,197 constituents have weighed in so far. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments. This week, 1,364 constituents contacted our office, including:

  • 166 constituents wrote to me in support of impeachment

  • 129 constituents wrote to me in support of H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act

  • 102 constituents wrote to me in support of the Better Energy Storage Act

Anna’s Recommended Reading and Watching

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

San Jose Mercury News Column (11/8/2019) – “Magid: It’s about time we had more control over our data

Larry Magid wrote about the legislation Rep. Zoe Lofgren and I introduced last week, the Online Privacy Act. Larry explains how our bill advances innovative privacy protections that could benefit every American.