Anna's Weekly Update
Highlights of What I Did in Congress This Week
On Wednesday, the House passed a bicameral, bipartisan $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to respond to this public health crisis and fund the following:
- $3.1 billion to research and develop vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, and purchase medical supplies (including N95 masks);
- $2.2 billion for public health activities including infection control and testing, with $950 million dedicated to state & local public health agencies;
- $100 million to Community Health Centers to prepare for, prevent, and respond to the disease;
- $1.25 billion to assist with COVID-19 abroad;
- $300 million for the government to purchase vaccines at a fair and reasonable price and ensure vaccines are affordable for all Americans when developed; and
- $500 million to expand the use of telehealth in Medicare for seniors during the outbreak.
I attended two briefings this week from the Administration on how they are coordinating the national response. Vice President Pence met with Members to discuss what the Administration is doing to increase the critical need for access to diagnostic tests.
There are currently 20 cases of coronavirus in Santa Clara County. The Santa Clara County Department of Health states that the risk to the community is increasing, but they are not recommending closing schools at this time. I continue to monitor developments very closely and remain in close contact with the federal, state and local public health professionals. For the most up-to-date information, you can refer to the CDC’s website.
Hearing on the Implementation of Opioid Laws
As Chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee, I held a hearing on the Administration’s implementation of laws to combat the opioid epidemic. The Subcommittee also considered 11 legislative proposals to help patients. In 2018, overdoses killed 67,000 Americans, inflicting more U.S. casualties in one year than the entire Vietnam War. To respond to the crisis, Congress passed the 21st Century Cares Act, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and the SUPPORT Act. These laws all addressed stemming the tide of addiction and devastation that the opioid epidemic has created. Despite Congressional funding, according to a 2019 National Academies of Science report, more than 80 percent of the 2 million people with opioid use disorder are not receiving medication-assisted treatment, and families and children affected by the opioid crisis are not receiving the care they need.
We have to do more, and it’s why my Subcommittee examined 11 legislative proposals to address the shortcomings of current opioid epidemic resources. The bills offer a range of solutions from providing $5 billion annually to federal programs already in place that provide treatment and support prevention, to investing in the health care workforce to treat underserved areas.
To watch my opening statement, click HERE.
Voted YES on the Yes In My Backyard Act
There are not enough homes being built across the country to keep up with population growth, a problem often exacerbated by zoning and planning restrictions. In California, this has led to an immense cost burden for both renters and homebuyers. Each year, Californians pay $50 billion more for housing than they can afford. The Yes In My Backyard Act encourages communities to increase housing supply and affordability by requiring local governments to report whether they have enacted policies to reduce housing costs when they apply for federal housing development funds. Importantly, the bill does not restrict local governments’ ability to ensure planning decisions remain at the local level but provides a powerful incentive to spur additional housing supply.
Voted YES on the Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act
When Congress established the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Administration officials were given broad powers to determine the pay and benefits of employees. Until 2011, TSA employees were not allowed to unionize and compared to other federal employees, they lack basic rights. The Rights for Transportation Security Officers Act will provide TSA workers with full collective bargaining rights, due process and whistleblower protections, and standard salary guidelines used by most federal employees.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Same Day Registration Act
Currently, California and 17 other states permit individuals to register to vote and cast a provisional ballot on election day. Same-day voter registration is one of the most effective ways to increase voter turnout and encourage minority participation in elections. The Same Day Registration Act empowers voters and protects voting rights by requiring all states to allow same-day voter registration in federal elections.
Preventing Drug Shortages Act
According to the FDA, drug shortages have steadily increased in recent years. The coronavirus outbreak has drawn greater attention to global drug supply chains, and the FDA has already declared one shortage as a result of the coronavirus and more may be on the way. The Preventing Drug Shortages Act prevents future shortages by:
- Expanding on existing requirements at the FDA that drug manufacturers notify FDA when they are experiencing a shortage by requiring additional details about the shortage, the duration of the shortage, and the location of the facilities to give us the information we need to respond.
- Requires manufacturers to develop risk management plans to identify vulnerabilities in their supply chains and to develop plans to mitigate those vulnerabilities.
- Lengthens drug expiration dates to allow drugs in shortage to stay on the shelves longer, without risk to a patient’s health.
- Directs the GAO to examine what the FDA is currently doing to address shortages.
Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned
Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court on Robocalls
Senator Ed Markey and I led more than a dozen Members of the House and Senate in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging them to protect consumers from robocalls. Currently, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) generally requires callers to obtain consent before robocalling. The American Association of Political Consultants and other parties challenged the TCPA in court, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. Our amicus brief makes clear that Congress passed the TCPA to stop the scourge of robocalls and highlights how invalidating the TCPA could harm the privacy of the American people, make consumers more vulnerable to scammers, and undermine the telephone as a means of communication. To read the brief, click here.
Meeting with Peace Corps Alumni
It was wonderful to welcome two Peace Corps Alumni from our Congressional District to our Washington, D.C. office. I’m very proud to be the mother of a former Peace Corps volunteer, I know firsthand how hard they work to represent our country and its values around the world. I’m working to increase the Peace Corps budget so we can expand opportunities for those who wish to serve.
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 15,386 constituents have 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, 1,572 constituents contacted our office about issues including:
- 240 constituents wrote to me in opposition of the Trump Administration's proposed budget
- 147 constituents wrote to me with concerns about the novel coronavirus
- 136 constituents wrote to me in support of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act
Anna's Recommended Reading and Watching
I frequently read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times (3/5/2020) – “Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000”
Gus Wezerek and Kristen Ghodsee explore the jaw-dropping impacts of women’s unpaid labor in the global economy. The value of this shadow labor is staggering: $10.9 trillion, according to an analysis by Oxfam.
U.S. Census Job Openings
The U.S. Census Bureau needs to hire more workers in the Bay Area for the 2020 Census. They have temporary supervisory, outreach, and recruiting positions available, the pay is competitive, and the work is critical to obtaining an accurate count for next year’s census. You can find more information on available positions HERE.