September 2009 Monthly Newsletter
September was one of the busiest and most productive monthssince I first was elected to Congress in 1993. This past month, my colleagues and I passed major legislation tomitigate the worst effects of the recession, speed our continued recovery, andpave the way for the continued success of future generations.
We passed the largest-ever single increase to student aidfunding, an extension of unemployment benefits for jobless workers, and furtherinvestment in advanced, renewable vehicle technology. These are important bills which reflect ournation's commitment to excellence across a wide range of fields. None of these bills add a cent to ournational deficit, because every single one complies with the House PAY-GO ruleswe implemented early this year. Underthese rules, all new federal spending must either be "budget neutral" or offsetby other savings from existing funds.
I continue to work diligently on healthcare reformlegislation.
A true champion of healthcare reform was the late SenatorEdward Kennedy. The country lost a great patriot in the passing of SenatorKennedy and I lost a dear friend. His brothers inspired me to serve in publicoffice, and his wise counsel and steadfast support has sustained me throughoutmy personal and public life. As anation, we are diminished by his loss.
I'm enclosing a brief summary-the highlights-of my work inSeptember, as well as an update on healthcare legislation, and the status ofHangar One. I'm pleased with the work we accomplished in September, but we have far more to do in the coming months.
|Education||Net Neutrality |
| Unemployment Benefits || Loud Commercials|
| Vehicle Technology || Healthcare Update |
|Climate Change|| Hangar One |
During his campaign President Obama pledged that by 2020 America wouldonce again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To meet this pledge the House passed H.R.3221, the Student Aid and FiscalResponsibility Act (SAFRA). The billstabilizes and protects the federal student loan program, removing this federalprogram from the control of banks and ensuring that market fluctuations and profitof lenders do not impinge on the ability of students to obtain affordable loansfor school. This bill is also the largest single increase ever made tostudent aid funding in our country's history.
Under the current system, the federal student loan programdepends on banks and lenders who are subsidized by taxpayers. During the financial crisis, ratessky-rocketed due to market fluctuations. Families should not have to worry about the profits of banks orvariations in the stock market in order to access affordable loans to educatetheir children. H.R. 3221 guaranteesaccess to low rates by originating all new federal student loans through theproven Direct Loan program which is unaffected by changes in the market. Instead of subsidizing banks and lenders, thebill will create a new public-private partnership which allows lenders tocompete for contracts to service loans. Non-profit insurers also will continue to have the opportunity to serviceloans. This cuts the fat out of thecurrent process, providing $87 billion in savings over the next 10 years.
These savings will be directly invested to increase fundingfor a variety of scholarships and student loans, including Pell Grantscholarships ($40 billion) and the Perkins Loan program. It also provides $10billion to community colleges, workforce programs, online training, and adulteducation, and $2.55 billion for historically black colleges anduniversities. It also creates newopportunities and funding for early learning programs to ensure that ourchildren possess the educational foundation necessary for college.
As a cosponsor of this bill since its inception, I'm very proudthat H.R. 3221 passed the House by a vote of 253 to 171. This will serve our country and its familiesand children exceedingly well.
More than 6.9 million jobs have been lost since thebeginning of the recession in 2007. In Silicon Valley,the unemployment rate hit 11.8% in July, well above the national rate of9.7%.
H.R. 3548, the UnemploymentCompensation Extension Act of 2009, will extend emergency unemploymentbenefits to 300,000 jobless workers slated to lose their benefits at the end ofthis month, and it will help more than a million workers before the end of theyear. This bill will assist workers and families who have lost their jobsthrough no fault of their own and help them maintain their homes, keep theirchildren in school, and continue to afford basic necessities. The Housepassed H.R. 3548 by a vote of 331 to83.
The Advanced VehicleTechnology Act, H.R.3246, boosts the funding for the Department of Energyto expand their Vehicle Technologies Program which develops clean,cost-competitive, and domestically produced alternative fuels and thetechnology for vehicles to utilize them. This legislation is the most comprehensive authorization of long-termfunding for research, development, demonstration and commercial applicationactivities ever provided to this program. The bill authorizes $550 million for FY 2010with an increase of $10 million every year through FY 2014. H.R. 3246 passed the House by a vote of 312 to 114.
On September 25th the CIA announced theirestablishment of a Center on Climate Change and National Security, which willsupport policymakers in dealing with the complex challenges created by climatechange. I'm very pleased with thisannouncement-I've worked for many years for the CIA to recognize the securitythreats posed by climate change.
Last year the Intelligence Community issued a NationalIntelligence Assessment on the implications of climate change, as a result oflegislation I introduced with Senator Diane Feinstein. As Chair of the Subcommittee on IntelligenceCommunity Management, I held an open hearing on this Assessment with Rep. EdMarkey (D-MA) immediately after its publication. At the hearing, witnesses spoke of theanticipated effects of climate change-droughts, floods, a paucity of naturalresources, and large refugee migrations-and warned of their impact on thestability of countries and border conflicts. The CIA has the resources and global position to monitor and analyze thereal security threat posed by climate change, and the new Center on ClimateChange and National Security will be an important resource for evaluating andmitigating its impact.
Earlier this year, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and I introduced theInternet Freedom Preservation Act,H.R. 3458. This bill will keep the Internet open and free ofanti-competitive restraints by service providers, and continue to spurinnovation and growth. Less than two months later, FCC Chairman JuliusGenachowski announced his own Net Neutrality initiative. I look forwardto working with the FCC to develop important telecommunications policies tomaintain a competitive, innovative Internet.
I introduced the CALMAct, H.R. 1084, to require the FCC to pass rules that would end thepractice of spiking commercial noise levels to gain viewer attention. Thebroadcast industry is now working with cable and satellite providers to developa method for making sound uniform - so that you will control the sound. I'll continue to press for action toeliminate the unnecessary nuisance of unnecessarily blaring TV commercials.
This year I helped to write a national healthcare reformplan, H.R. 3200, America's AffordableHealth Choices Act, in the Energy and Commerce Committee, where it passedon July 31. Congress is now working to combine the legislation of the threeHouse Committees that wrote parts of the bill and I anticipate that the fullHouse will take up a bill sometime in October.
The Senate is working on two parallel pieces of legislation. The Health, Education, Labor, and PensionsCommittee passed a healthcare bill in July and the Senate Finance Committee iscurrently writing their version. TheHouse and the Senate must each pass their own bill, and a Conference Committee,comprised of Members of the House and Members of the Senate will then hammerout one bill which both bodies must pass before sending to the President forhis signature.
We have a significant journey ahead of us before any billbecomes law and I remain committed to healthcare reform with a public optionwhich will benefit all Americans, without affecting individual choice orhindering quality medical care. Overall, the legislation I support keepswhat's great about the American system in place, making it more accessible andaffordable for all citizens, and fixes what's broken.
For more detailed information on the House bill, pleasevisit my website (https://eshoo.house.gov/). On my site, you can read the key componentsof the bill, view a FAQ of the most frequently asked questions, and use aninteractive quiz to see how reform will affect you.
Hangar One at Moffett Field is a Bay Area landmark and anational treasure. Its rich history and significance to our military makeit imperative for us to do everything we can to preserve this icon.
I've been working closely with the heads of both NASA andthe U.S. Navy to ensure that an agreement is reached to re-side the Hangar beforeany siding is taken down. Currently, theOffice of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing this issue and will issue adecision in the coming weeks on who will be responsible for re-siding HangarOne. I wrote to the Secretary of the Navy asking for his commitment andhe has assured me in writing that no siding will be taken down until after theOMB review. I've also weighed in with theDirector of the OMB, Peter Orszag, on what his decision will mean to myconstituents and have urged him to engage his highest level staff in OMB'sreview.
I want to thank the many, many constituents who haveexpressed their support for a full restoration. Community leaders LennySiegel and Bob Moss have helped to keep this issue at the forefront and we areall grateful to them for their advocacy and leadership.
If you have questions or comments, let me hear fromyou. I'm proud to represent a Congressional District where myconstituents are informed and ask serious-minded, thoughtful questions, andprovide me with valuable feedback. Ilook forward to hearing from you.
Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress