Anna's Weekly Update
It was a historic week in Washington as the Senate voted to acquit President Trump on two articles of impeachment. Every Democratic senator supported removal from office. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted to convict the President for abuse of power, and all other Republican senators voted to acquit the President. In my view, it was not a fair trial. Every trial in the United States has witnesses and documents. I believe the American people have been deprived of this critically important information and that party was prioritized over country.
Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week
State of the Union
The President came to the Capitol on Tuesday evening to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress and to the country. I had the honor of hosting Diane Borrison of San Jose at the Capitol. All guests of my Democratic colleagues were individuals with extraordinary health care stories. Diane is a 13-year survivor of pancreatic cancer and she has not wasted a moment since her cancer went into remission. She travels to Washington, D.C. every spring with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) to advocate for federal investment in cancer research, and she was instrumental in advancing my legislation, the Recalcitrant Cancers Act that was signed into law in 2012.
As for the State of the Union address, it has always been a special experience to welcome the President, his Cabinet, the Supreme Court, and the Senate. All three coequal branches of government gather in our hallowed Chamber to hear the President’s call to Congress and the American people about our challenges and the President’s agenda to meet them.
Aside from the beautiful reunion of a military family and a tribute to the extraordinary Tuskegee veteran, sadly, in my view, for the first time in U.S. history of presidents giving a State of the Union address, the Chamber was transformed into a political rally, diminishing the evening and dividing our fellow Americans even more. I left the Capitol late that evening thinking hard about what I’d experienced and the actual State of the Union.
Bipartisan Member Briefing on Coronavirus
Members of Congress were briefed by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar; Deputy Secretary at the State Department Steve Biegun; Acting Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Ken Cuccinelli; Director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield; Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases at NIH, Dr. Anthony Fauci; and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS, Dr. Robert Kadlec.
The officials provided updates regarding the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a respiratory illness caused by a virus first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Experts believe the virus originated in bats which were also the source of SARS and MERS. Most of the known cases and all deaths but one associated with the disease have been in China, with only 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. to date. According to the CDC, the risk to the American public remains low unless someone has recently traveled to Wuhan and is experiencing respiratory symptoms. For the latest information about the coronavirus, you can visit the CDC’s website. CDC is working closely with our local public health officials on the two reported cases in Santa Clara County.
To learn more about coronavirus, you can also read Julie Mazziota’s interview with Dr. Angela Hewlett, Medical Director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. I found the piece to be a very good one, answering the most common questions asked, with clear answers to each.
Voted YES on the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act
Over the last 200 years, 90% of the San Francisco Bay’s wetlands have been destroyed by human activity. While great strides have been made to restore the Bay, more resources are needed. I voted for the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act to provide much-needed federal funding to help revive the Bay Area’s wetlands, improve water quality, and protect coastal communities from the damaging effects of sea level rise. The bill authorizes $25 million a year for five years to match the funding voters approved with Measure AA in 2016 for conservation and restoration projects around the Bay Area.
Voted YES on the Protecting the Right to Organize Act
The House passed one of the most significant bills in 80 years to strengthen the rights of workers to organize and join a labor union. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act amends decades-old labor laws to make it easier for workers to form and join a union to negotiate for higher wages and better benefits. The bill also strengthens protections for workers against unfair labor practices of employers and weakens “right-to-work” laws in 27 states that allow employees to forgo participating in and paying dues to unions.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act
Many Americans find that accessing doctors and specialists is a big challenge. Telehealth services have the potential to expand quality health care to every American regardless of where they live, but unfortunately there’s a lack of research and consistent data about cost savings that has stalled the expansion of these services. Today, grants and research to improve access to telehealth services are spread across 10 different federal agencies with little or no coordination among them. To increase access to care, I introduced the bipartisan National Telehealth Strategy and Data Advancement Act with Rep. Gianforte (R-Montana) which reduces health care costs, collects critical information to improve policymaking, and streamlines the administration of federal grants for researching the use of technology in health care. Specifically, our legislation:
- simplifies the grant application process and streamlines the administrative structure of federal telehealth programs;
- requires the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) to create a plan for a cohesive, efficient telehealth implementation at the federal level;
- helps regional and national entities to enable greater use of telehealth;
- improves telehealth research by standardizing the federal grant process and data reporting of grant recipients;
- provides federal governance and oversight of federal telehealth spending and ensures information sharing and collaboration across federal agencies; and
- creates a biennial report to Congress on federal investments in telehealth, assessing costs of and access to telehealth.
Speech on the House Floor for National Gun Violence Survivors Week
To highlight National Gun Violence Survivors Week, I spoke on the floor of the House to honor the 100,000 survivors who are injured by guns every year and decried the Senate’s inaction on gun violence. I urged the Senate to take up universal background check legislation which the House passed a year ago. It is supported by more than 70 percent of Americans. Background checks have stopped more than 3 million illegal gun sales since 1994, but current loopholes have contributed to nearly 40,000 people dying from gun violence in 2017. You can watch my remarks here.
Remarks in the House in Support of Medicaid
After attempting to repeal Medicaid coverage for 17 million Americans in the last Congress, the Trump Administration is now taking a hatchet to the Medicaid program, ripping coverage away from families through onerous paperwork requirements, discriminatory policies against documented immigrants, and funding cuts through proposed block grants. I spoke on the floor of the House in support of a Resolution which expressed disapproval of the Trump administration's harmful actions and how they would hurt millions of Americans. You can watch my speech here.
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. Over 7,932 constituents have already contacted me in 2020. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments from me. This week, 1,725 constituents contacted our office about issues including:
- 211 constituents wrote to me in opposition of the Administration’s travel ban
- 148 constituents wrote to me in support of the MONARCH Act
- 138 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Anna's Recommended Reading and Watching
I frequently read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times Essay (2/6/2020) – “Christina Koch Lands on Earth, and Crosses a Threshold for Women in Space”
Mary Robinette Kowal writes in a Times essay about the extraordinary feats of astronaut Christina Koch who just executed the first all-women spacewalk and set a duration record for time in space. Ms. Kowal’s essay draws attention to Koch’s lesser known but equally important accomplishments.