Anna's Weekly Update
Weekly Report From Your Congresswoman
It was a solemn and historic week in Congress. For only the third time in our nation’s history, Articles of Impeachment were transmitted from the House of Representatives to the Senate which will begin the trial next week.
Transmission of the Articles of Impeachment and Approval of Impeachment Managers
The House voted to transmit the two Articles of Impeachment to the Senate and approve the seven impeachment managers that will present the Articles in the Senate trial. The managers are:
Every trial in our country has witnesses and documents. For the sake of the American people, my greatest hope is that the Senate Majority Leader will allow a fair trial. Blocking witnesses and documents is tantamount to a cover-up in my view. The U.S. Senate is essentially on trial, too.
You can watch video of Chairman Schiff reading the Articles of Impeachment before the Senate here, and you can review a timeline of the Impeachment here.
Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week
Hearing on Federal Cannabis Policies
As Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee, I held the very first hearing on federal cannabis policies in the history of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Thirty-three states now allow medicinal cannabis and eleven states, including California and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult use. But state laws and federal policy are a thousand miles apart.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, a Schedule I drug is one that the federal government determines has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, together with LSD, cocaine, and ecstasy. The lack of scientific research on cannabis and its chemical compounds, including CBD with its wide commercial consumption, has hindered Americans from making informed medical decisions about the drug.
The restrictions on cannabis research have led to unanswered questions about the safety and quality of products containing CBD, and it has also made it difficult to advance cannabis-derived medication which has therapeutic potential for chronic pain, nausea, and the treatment of neurological disorders. My Subcommittee is considering six bills that offer a range of solutions to this problem. The federal government should not impede medical research. The American people deserve to have access to information about what is potentially harmful, as well as what is positive about the therapeutic effects of cannabis and CBD.
To watch my opening statement, click here.
Voted YES on a Resolution Protecting Student Loan Borrowers Defrauded by For-Profit Colleges
For-profit colleges have operated with impunity for decades, reaping $30 billion a year of taxpayer money in the form of federal student aid. They’ve also lied to students about job prospects and the value of their degrees. Following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute in 2016, the Obama Administration established rules to create a streamlined process to help defrauded borrowers access debt relief.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos effectively reversed that rule by implementing a new policy that forces future defrauded borrowers to navigate a burdensome process to get relief, severely restricting how much relief they can receive, and shifting the cost of providing debt relief from predatory schools to taxpayers. The House passed a resolution to block Secretary DeVos’ rule. The Department of Education should be advocating for students, not for predatory for-profit colleges.
Voted YES on the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act
In 2009, the Supreme Court imposed a much higher burden of proof on workers alleging age discrimination in the workplace in Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc. Since that ruling, complaints of age discrimination have risen, accounting for 23 percent of all discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017. The House passed the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act to return the burden of proof for workers alleging age discrimination back to the pre-2009 burden of proof standard. It is the same standard that is used for alleged discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, and religion.
Joint Economic Committee – The U.S. Economy by the Numbers
Founded in 1946, the Joint Economic Committee is a Congressional Committee that provides economic research and policy recommendations to Congress. It releases excellent monthly economic analyses which can be found here. Below are a few figures I’ve selected to share with you from their most recent publication:
- Real GDP growth in Q3 was estimated to be 2.1%, up from 2.0% in Q2.
- Congressional Budget Office projects annual growth of only 1.9% from 2019 to 2029, far lower than the up to 6% growth that the President has predicted.
- The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour ($15,080 per year full-time). That’s almost $3 less per hour, accounting for inflation, than the 1968 peak.
- The total federal debt has surpassed $23 trillion, with over $17 trillion held by the public. By 2029, the GOP tax law will add $1.9 trillion to the debt.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Resolution Recognizing the Efforts and Bravery of Australian and American Firefighters
Bushfires have burned nearly 18 million acres of land in Australia, resulting in the death of at least 25 people and over one billion animals. During this time, over 200 American firefighters have been dispatched to Australia to help combat and contain these devastating fires. I cosponsored a bipartisan House resolution to recognize the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Australia to share critical firefighting resources during times of crisis. It commends the efforts and bravery of both Australian and American firefighters who have not only risked their lives to fight wildfires in their home country, but are also providing their services to another country during their time of need.
Refugee Protection Act
The Trump Administration has dramatically reduced refugee admissions from a maximum cap of 110,000 in 2016 to 18,000 this year. The President has been repeatedly hostile to refugees, using vulgarities to disparage immigrants and their countries of origin. The Refugee Protection Act establishes a minimum refugee admissions level of 95,000 annually, creates an alternative to detention for refugees, and eliminates barriers to making an asylum claim. The legislation creates additional safeguards for refugees to ensure the Administration cannot turn away victims of crime, human trafficking, and domestic violence or deny them work authorization.
Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned
Letter to the Secretary of the Interior Opposing the Decision to Open More Land in Alaska to Oil and Gas Drilling
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently revised its planning policy for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, a 24-million-acre region that has important habitats for migratory birds and elk populations. Current policy allows for energy development on half of the area in the reserve, but the revised policy plan expands drilling into areas that are ecologically protected. Together with my colleagues, we wrote to the Secretary of the Interior to express strong opposition to the BLM’s decision. We cannot drill our way to energy independence, and our country must refocus our efforts to pursue new, sustainable sources of energy.
Meeting with the Armenian Ambassador to the United States
It was an honor to welcome the Ambassador of Armenia to the United States to my office in Washington, D.C. We discussed recent U.S. military actions in the Middle East and how to strengthen the relationship between our countries.
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. In this new year, over 4,443 constituents have already contacted me. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments from me. This week, 1,555 constituents contacted our office about issues including:
- 190 constituents wrote to me in support of protecting the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
- 155 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the use of PFAS chemicals
- 144 constituents wrote to me in support of impeachment
Anna’s Recommended Reading and Watching
I frequently read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial (1/14/2019) – “Editorial: Senators face a trial of their own”
The Chronicle Editorial Board asserts the Senate must admit witnesses and new evidence in the impeachment trial. If the Senate engages in a coverup show trial, they will “do so in defiance of the people and the Constitution.”