100 Days for the People
This past week marked my 100th day working for the people of the Central Valley. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to represent the hard-working families of the 21st Congressional District in Washington, D.C. Throughout my first 100 days, my team and I have been busy. I’ve participated in over 130 events across the district, hosted my first town hall, authored my first piece of legislation – the Immediate Financial Relief for Federal Employees Act, cosponsored 90 bills, opened two district offices, and have met with hundreds of constituents in both California and Washington.
The voters of the 21st District and across the nation sent a clear message in November (well, December in my case) that they wanted a Congress that would work on their behalf. Not for the super-wealthy, corporations or special interests. As someone in the thick of it every day, I can tell you this Congress is focused on just that – working for the people.
Two years ago, the Republican’s first piece of legislation was to cut taxes for the very wealthy and corporations. Our first bill was the For the People Act. This legislation ends the influence of special interest and “dark” money in our elections, promotes national redistricting reform, and makes it easier for everyone to vote. We’ve also passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, to restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that the conservative Supreme Court had previously undermined.
We all know paycheck fairness is what all families need and deserve. Women represent the sole breadwinner or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of families with children across our country, so closing the gender wage gap is an issue of both fairness and economic opportunity. To address wage stagnation, we passed H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act that makes it harder to discriminate against women in pay and benefits.
To keep us safe, we passed The Bipartisan Background Checks Act that closes loopholes and requires that everyone who wishes to purchase a dangerous firearm does so only after passing a background check -- a requirement supported by nine out of 10 Americans. And last week, despite GOP obstructions, we approved the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with, ultimately, bipartisan support.
I was also proud to stand on the steps of the Capitol as we introduced H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 that would protect Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status and keep our immigrant families together.
In the coming weeks, we will be advancing legislation to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and to make the smart investments that will produce economic, social and environmental returns for the next century. In my previous career, we would call this “triple-bottom line investing.” Today, some call it a “Green New Deal…..)” Regardless of the name, it’s what we have to do to ensure our economic, personal and societal progress for the future.
Finally, I and my 234 Democrat colleagues are united in delivering quality, affordable, healthcare for all. The Administration and the other side of aisle have different plans however. Their assaults on the Affordable Care Act are like a Terminator sequel. You think that once the cyborg has been vaporized in molten steel we can finally have some rest and begin to work on improving health systems and policy, but no, Skynet is back. This time weighing in with an amicus brief that supports a recent district court decision that invalidated all of the ACA.
Despite any pronouncements to the contrary, it’s the Trump Administration’s and the GOP’s position that all of the ACA — the private insurance markets that cover 15 million Americans, the Medicaid expansion that covers another 15 million, and the protections for people with preexisting conditions and other regulations — should be nullified. Rest assured, this won’t happen on our watch. Not only will we take concrete steps to enhance the ACA, we will continue to work on comprehensive legislation to stabilize our health care system, lower health care costs and prescription drug prices and move ahead with our agenda for the people.
Voted Yes on H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act
This week the House voted to approve the Save the Internet Act on a bipartisan vote of 232 – 190. The legislation reverses the Trump Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of critical net neutrality protections. Since the FCC’s decision to end net neutrality in late 2017, control of the Internet has been taken from the American people and given to Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, empowering them to generate new profits by restricting access.
The Save the Internet Act reinstates net neutrality and would:
- Prohibit internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization;
- Close loopholes by empowering the FCC to stop unjust and discriminatory practices;
- Foster innovation and competition by ensuring fair and equal access to broadband for start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs;
- Promote deployment and access to broadband for consumers and businesses in rural, suburban, and urban areas across the country.
Voted Yes on H.R. 1331, the Local Water Protection Act
My colleagues and I overwhelmingly voted to pass the Local Water Protection Act, which reauthorizes and increases voluntary grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to give local and state governments the flexibility to create conservation programs to reduce water pollution from storm runoff and snowmelt that are specific to their communities.
The legislation secures $200 million in federal funding per year to provide technical and financial assistance, education, training, and monitoring of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.
Legislation I Cosponsored
Employer Participation in Repayment Act - The bill addresses the student loan debt problem by encouraging employers to offer student loan assistance as a tax-exempt benefit for employees to help pay down their debt. It helps employers recruit and retain young talent by allowing them to assist employees with student loan debt in the same way they currently help with continued education benefits, and employees will receive a tax-exempt benefit of up to $5,250 a year to help pay off student loans. Currently, employees pay taxes on their employers’ contribution to pay off debt.
Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act - This legislation promotes water supply reliability and improves water management in the Central Valley by reauthorizing programs for surface and groundwater storage, water reclamation and reuse, and rural drinking water projects.
Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act - This critical piece of legislation addresses the opioid crisis by ensuring that medical providers have access to the full medical history of patients suffering from substance use disorders. This bill corrects an antiquated law from 1972, where substance use treatment records are kept expressly separate from a patient’s medical record.
Meetings & Events
Last week I pushed the Appropriations Committee to support critical water infrastructure -funding of projects worth nearly $150 million that will benefit the Central Valley. Our community has some of the most pressing water infrastructure needs in the country, and I’m working across the aisle and within our caucus to deliver. Click here to watch my full testimony.
It was an honor to welcome our Valley veterans to our nation’s capital. Central Valley Honor Flight provides an opportunity for our community to express our deep gratitude and appreciation to these American heroes who have sacrificed everything for our country and freedom.
I’m proud to have joined my colleagues on the Armenian Caucus for the Congressional Armenian Genocide Commemoration. As a nation that values the freedom of speech and assembly, it’s time for the U.S. government to recognize that these massacres carried out against Armenians 104 years ago occurred.
It was a pleasure catching up with the California Farm Bureau. We talked about the trade war’s damaging impact on our farmers and ranchers and how we can work together to best support our producers during this difficult period.
TJ’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
The Trump Administration has continuously pushed for the citizenship question to be added to the 2020 census arguing that it will better enforce part of the Voting Rights Act. The reality of it is that the citizenship status question will depress census participation among households with noncitizens and lead to an undercount of immigrants and people of color. The NPR article examines how a third federal judge found the addition of the question to be unconstitutional because it would hinder government's ability to count every person living in the U.S. as the Constitution requires.
News Track (4/14/19) - Vaisakhi 2019: Date, Religious Significance and history about the day
Vaisakhi is an annual harvest festival celebrated by people of many faiths throughout South Asia, including Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists. The News Track article describes the cultural and religious significance of Vaisakhi. I was proud to join my constituents and the Sikh community at the Selma Gurdwara for this year’s festivities. California’s 21st district is home to more than 25,000 Sikhs and some of the largest Gurdwaras in our nation – it’s important for all of us to highlight and celebrate the diverse rich culture of our communities.
If you’re ever in DC, please call ahead so we can arrange tours for you and update you on upcoming events you may be interested in attending. The cherry blossoms this year were spectacular and as the weather warms up, there are many other outdoor events that you may like to attend. If you have a larger group, give us a call and we’ll see if we can arrange a night-time Capitol tour. I look forward to seeing you soon.
In your service,
Member of Congress