Anna's Weekly Update
This week the Senate continued the impeachment trial of President Trump based on the two Articles of Impeachment the House passed last month. The trial began with three days of the House Impeachment Managers making their case for removal, followed by three days of the President’s attorneys defending him. Senators then submitted written questions which the Chief Justice read aloud and the House Managers and the President’s attorneys responded to. On the other side of the Capitol, the House of Representatives continued advancing its agenda for the people by introducing and passing bills, holding hearings, and oversight of the Executive Branch.
As I write this to you, we await the decision of the full Senate as to whether witnesses and documents will be allowed in the trial.
Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week
CDC Briefing on Coronavirus
I met with Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Dr. Tony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Kadlec, the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response; and Rear Admiral Denise Hinton with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The coronavirus is a respiratory illness caused by a virus first identified in Wuhan, China. Most of the known cases and all deaths associated with the disease have been in China, with only seven confirmed cases in the U.S. to date. According to the CDC, the risk to the American public is low, unless someone has recently traveled to Wuhan and is experiencing respiratory symptoms. For the latest information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s website.
To prevent transmission of diseases, two simple but powerful acts of prevention are recommended. Wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly, and cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze, and everyone should get a flu shot.
Questioned the CEO of PG&E at House Energy and Commerce Hearing on Wildfires
The two most destructive fires in Californian history, including the 2018 Camp Fire which killed 85 people and destroyed over 18,000 buildings, were linked to PG&E’s equipment. On January 29th I grilled the CEO of PG&E, Bill Johnson, about the utility’s widespread intentional blackouts at a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change on the impact of wildfires on the power sector and the environment. You can watch my questions from the hearing HERE.
Addressing the scourge of wildfires in California continues to be a top priority for me. Last October, I introduced the Smoke Planning and Research Act to provide federal funding to help communities research, develop, and implement plans to mitigate the adverse health effects of wildfire smoke. I’m also pushing hard to strengthen infrastructure to withstand wildfires. In July, 2019, I introduced the WIRED Act to allow states to require wireless companies to deploy infrastructure that will be resilient enough to support cell phone networks during disasters. Currently, states lack this authority and the consequences have been dire.
Health Subcommittee Hearing on Food and Drug Safety
As Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee, I held a hearing this week to examine ten mostly bipartisan bills to improve the safety and transparency in our food and drugs. Twenty cents out of every dollar spent by American consumers goes toward food or medicine regulated by the FDA. We examined the FDA’s immense mission with two panels of expert witnesses. Our first panel considered four bills to grant the FDA new authorities to tackle challenges that threaten our drug supply. Taken together, these bills improve the drug supply chain from the very beginning to the very end so that patients have access to quality products that are genuine, affordable, and accurately labeled.
The second panel considered six bills that affect the FDA’s oversight of food products. Many of these bills act on decisions that the FDA has long delayed. For example, we heard about one bill, the FASTER Act, which would require food manufacturers to list sesame as an allergen on their products. It would also fund into federal studies to better understand the growing prevalence of food allergies in the United States.
To watch my opening statement, click HERE.
Voted YES on the No War Against Iran Act
President Trump’s assassination of General Soleimani has placed U.S. service members, diplomats, embassies, and allied interests around the world at high risk, and has brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war. To add insult to injury, the President failed to properly consult Congress or seek the legal authority to take military action against Iran. The Administration has also failed to fully explain what, exactly, the imminent threat was to the U.S. that required the strike. No Member of Congress carries a brief for General Soleimani or the Iranian government, but no President has the unilateral authority to take our nation to war without authorization from Congress.
The No War Against Iran Act underscores that Congress has not authorized the use of military force against Iran. It also prohibits federal funding for any use of military force in or against Iran unless Congress has declared war or enacted a specific authorization that meets the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. I’ve long had concerns about the Trump Administration’s provocative behavior toward Iran, beginning with the President tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement, and it’s why I introduced the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act last April. My bill restricts this Administration and any future administrations from using any funds appropriated by Congress to take military action in and against Iran without authorization from Congress.
House Infrastructure Package
This week the Majority released our framework for a five-year $760 billion infrastructure bill. The framework addresses our nation’s crumbling infrastructure by investing in zero-emission vehicles, expands access to broadband, upgrades clean water infrastructure, and creates an estimated 10 million new jobs. The package also authorizes $12 billion to modernize our country’s 9-1-1 systems, based on my legislation the Next Generation 9-1-1 Act. You can read more about the infrastructure plan HERE.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
The Workforce Mobility Act
I introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will help workers by prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements. This occurs when an employer restricts an employee’s future prospects through their employment contracts. While California has long prohibited non-competes, 40 percent of Americans have been constrained by a non-compete agreement at some point in their career. Reps. Scott Peters, Mike Gallagher, and I introduced the Workforce Mobility Act to ban non-compete agreements with a few narrow exceptions (such as the sale of a business).
Much of Silicon Valley was built by former employees of one tech company leaving to found another, all allowed because of California’s ban on non-compete agreements. This ban continues to allow the Valley to prosper as an innovation powerhouse. I’m proud that my legislation will make this a nationwide policy, ensuring all Americans have the ability to innovate.
The Protecting Community Television Act
Community television is a critical part of our society, giving a voice to nonprofits, artists, schools, local governments, and other community members who otherwise struggle to be heard. I introduced legislation to ensure that community television operations continue to receive the resources they need to educate and inform viewers in the cities and towns where they operate.
Today, local governments are permitted to require that cable companies meet community needs by providing in-kind contributions that benefit public, educational, and government (PEG) channels, also known as community television stations. Unfortunately the FCC proposed regulatory changes that would effectively end the in-kind contributions that support PEG stations. Senator Ed Markey and I introduced the Protecting Community Television Act to block the FCC’s proposal and bolster community TV.
Meeting with the Foreign Minister of Laos
This week I had the honor of welcoming the Foreign Minister of Laos, His Excellency Saleumxay Kommasith, and the Laotian Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Khamphan Anlavan, to my Washington, D.C. office. My work to fund the removal of unexploded ordinances, such as landmines in Laos from the Vietnam War era has received bipartisan support in Congress and will save the lives of so many who remain vulnerable to these landmines. I’ve championed this issue by co-leading the Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act.
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 6,446 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, 1,289 constituents contacted our office about issues including:
- 137 constituents wrote to me about H.Con.Res. 52 which expresses the sense of Congress that there is an ongoing climate emergency
- 87 constituents wrote to me about the Helping MOMS Act to help expand access to Medicaid coverage for expectant and new mothers
- 46 constituents wrote to me about the Children’s Product Warning Label Act to strengthen cosmetic product safety
Anna’s Recommended Reading and Watching
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times (1/27/2020) – “At Auschwitz, Holocaust Survivors Plead ‘Never Forget’ ”
As the world marks 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, I encourage you to take a moment to read about what the survivors want the world to remember about the horrors that took place there.
Utility Dive (1/29/2020) – “PG&E CEO: System hardening will be completed 'long after I retire’ ”
“Rep. Eshoo also grilled Johnson on PG&E's public safety shut-off program. … Specifically, she questioned how ratepayers can know that the black-outs are based on a careful assessment of safety concerns, and not just ‘turning off the juice to shield the company and its shareholders from legal liability.’ ”