As a member of Congress, a critical part of my job is making sure that the voices of those I have the honor of representing are heard, and that our Valley interests are represented in Washington, D.C. That is why I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what I have been doing on behalf of the people I represent.
Supporting Affordable Childcare for Working Families
The increasing cost of childcare and rising costs of living in this economy have made it more and more difficult for working families to afford quality child care. We know just how important the early years of life are to a child’s development, and parents who have to work full time should not have to choose between their job and caring for their children. That is why I am cosponsoring the bipartisan Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone (PACE) Act. This bill would modernize the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to provide financial assistance to lower and middle class families who struggle with the increasing cost of childcare. Children and families come first in our Valley, and it is my hope that this bill will be included in any comprehensive tax reform package.
Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year from September 15th to October 15th we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. During this time, we reflect on and honor the history, culture, and contributions of the Hispanic community. From serving in our armed forces, to starting businesses that further develop our economy and provide employment, to making great advancements in science, medicine, and the arts, the Hispanic community and its people have been critical in shaping our nation and our Valley. In California alone, there are over 815,000 Hispanic owned companies, 27,000 of which are in Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. I recently had the opportunity to speak on the floor of the House of Representatives to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and honor a community that is an essential part of both the San Joaquin Valley and America.
Rep. Costa Commemorates Hispanic Heritage Month
Protecting Faith-based Groups, Non-profits, and the Separation of Church and State
The Johnson Amendment to the U.S. tax code prohibits certain tax-exempt non-profit organizations – such as charities and religious organizations – from officially endorsing or opposing political candidates. The amendment is one of our legal structures for keeping separate church and state. It protects organizations from being pressured into taking sides on political issues and during campaigns, and protects government officials from becoming beholden to religion or other interests driving the non-profit organization. Yet, the amendment still allows these organizations to discuss political and social issues as they choose, as long as they do not officially endorse, oppose, or officially campaign for a candidate.
The separation of church and state is a cornerstone of our American democracy, and religious organizations, secular non-profits, and an overwhelming majority of Americans support the Johnson Amendment. In August alone, over 4,000 faith leaders wrote a letter to all Members of Congress strongly opposing any efforts to weaken or repeal the amendment. That is why I joined several of my colleagues in writing to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, urging him to defend the Johnson Amendment protections. It is critical that any tax reform package retain the Johnson Amendment without modification.
Fighting for Victims of Sexual Assault
As a co-founder of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, I have been working to shed light on the issue of sexual assault. Sexual assault is too often overlooked, and it is far too common, especially among young people. At present, 20 percent of undergraduate women and 6 percent of undergraduate men will be sexually assaulted or suffer an attempt of sexual assault during their time in college. This is simply unacceptable, and it must change. That is why I joined with 29 other members of the California Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to sign Senate Bill 169. This bill would codify Title IX enforcement and procedural standards issued by the Obama Administration in response to the growing crisis of sexual harassment and violence within our schools and universities. This legislation passed the California Legislature with bipartisan support, and I hope to see Governor Brown sign it into law as soon as possible.
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