It has been another busy week in Washington D.C., working on behalf of the people I have the privilege of representing. With that in mind, I would like to share with you what I have been doing to help keep our Valley safe, grow our economy, and strengthen our vibrant agricultural system.
Protecting our Valley and the American People
As a Member of Congress, my first and most important duty is to protect the American people from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The recent provocative actions by North Korea have been a cause for concern and must be taken seriously. Last week, I joined with the House Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to adopt a strategic, steady, and comprehensive policy towards North Korea. Where appropriate and effective, our strategy towards North Korea must include economic sanctions, diplomatic efforts, and working with our regional allies. The rogue regime of Kim Jong Un must understand that we will defend our allies of South Korea and Japan against any attack.
Additionally, I also joined many of my colleagues in calling on President Trump to recertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – a.k.a. the Iran Nuclear Deal – as long as there is verification of credible evidence Iran is following the terms of the agreement. Refusing to recertify the Iran Nuclear Agreement without clear evidence that Iran has breached the agreement will deeply damage our relationships with our allies, and it will weaken our credibility worldwide. In order for a comprehensive national security strategy of economic sanctions, diplomacy, deterrence, and working with our allies to be successful at making the world safer, countries around the world must know that the United States will keep its word. Failing to certify the agreement in the absence of a breach by Iran is just the opposite, and it would also send the wrong message to North Korea at the exact moment we need confidence in U.S. diplomatic efforts.
Commonsense Policy on the Endangered Species Act
Earlier this month, the House Natural Resources Committee passed out of committee the Listing Reform Act (H.R. 717), which would amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). This change would require a review of the economic impact resulting from adding a species to the list of threatened species. We in the Valley have felt the impact of the ESA for over 10 years, with water shortages brought on through a combination of natural drought and regulatory controls put into place to try to recover three threatened fish species within the Delta. These regulations have caused real harm to our area and to our economy, and it is far past time to make a serious effort to modernize the ESA to reflect today’s realities. I voted to move this bill forward because it takes the commonsense approach of allowing the federal government to balance the impacts to our economy with the needs of our environment. If the economic impacts are significant, it preserves discretion in whether a species will be listed under the ESA. It is my hope that the House will consider and vote on this bill soon.
Rep. Costa speaks on the need to modernize the ESA
Wildfire Prevention Efforts
This year, wildfires have ravaged more than eight million acres of land and displaced thousands of individuals in California and across other western states. In just the past two months, the Railroad, Mission, South Fork, and Pier fires have devastated our forests and our local communities in the San Joaquin Valley. Together, these four fires burned well over 55,000 acres. For years I have advocated for reform that will end the broken cycle that takes funding from forest management efforts that prevent wildfires to pay for the emergency efforts to suppress and fight wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service has already spent a record number of dollars – more than $2.3 billion – on putting out fires this year alone. This cannot continue, and we need reform now. That is why I am cosponsoring the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which aims to fix the escalating cost of fighting wildfires that crowd out funding for forest management. Additionally, I sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, asking him to review a proposal that includes comprehensive forest management and budget process reforms. Congress and the Administration need to come together on this issue, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues and the Trump Administration in order to help protect the American people.
Last month, I expressed my concern and extreme disappointment after the Trump Administration’s September 5, 2017 announcement to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). These DREAMers deserve and were promised better. Over 800,000 of these young people came to this country at the average age of 6 years old. America is the only country they have really known.
As I have been saying for years, America needs a long-term solution for our broken immigration system, which requires a deliberative policy process and a willingness to work together and compromise for the good of the country. While we work on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, it is also important that we stand with the young people previously protected by DACA. That is why I joined some of my colleagues in Congress in urging the administration to extend the deadline for DACA permit renewal to January 15, 2018 or until Congress has time to seriously consider a legislative solution. In addition, I am a cosponsor of the DREAM Act (H.R. 3440), and I signed the discharge petition that would bring the DREAM Act to the floor of the U.S. House of Representative for consideration. The Trump Administration has expressed a willingness to work with Congress on this issue, and it is my hope that we can come together to put into law protections for these young people.
Rep. Costa advocates for Protection of DREAMers and Bipartisan Immigration Reform
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any federal issues of your concern. To stay up-to-date on the work I am doing in Congress, please visit my website at costa.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter here. You can also follow my work and events in our Valley on my Facebook pageand twitter account.
Member of Congress