This past week was especially busy in Washington, as members of the House finished their business in D.C. before heading home to work in their districts for the month of August. With that in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on what I have been doing to improve the lives of those I have the privilege of representing.
Modernizing Our Nation’s Infrastructure
We have a long history in America of investing in our infrastructure, and these investments helped us grow and develop as a country. Yet, over the last 25 years we have been living off the infrastructure investments our parents and grandparents have made, and our infrastructure is now crumbling. This week I spoke on the House floor to urge my colleagues to come together and to work with the President to create a bipartisan plan that distributes infrastructure investment as fairly as possible, is cost effective, and does the most good in critical areas. This means that, in addition to other factors, we must make sure to increase opportunities in our nation’s rural communities, which too often get overlooked in infrastructure discussions. Without a smart, comprehensive approach to this issue, all Americans will be worse off, and we will continue to live off investments made in the past rather than investing in our future. While the decisions on where to invest can be challenging, it is vital that we approach this issue together. After all, no transportation system, energy project, or water infrastructure is Democratic or Republican.
To view my speech on the House floor, please click on the link below.
Forever GI Bill Passes in the House
Last Monday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, the largest update to the G.I. Bill since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008. The bill is referred to as the “Forever GI Bill” due to its elimination of the 15 year deadline by which veterans must use their education benefits. In addition, the legislation increases the amount that dependents of veterans can receive in education benefits. The Forever GI Bill also extends benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill to all Purple Heart recipients and to reservists and National Guard members who served next to active duty troops, but who themselves were not technically active duty troops. This bill’s passage showed us how Congress can and should work: together in a bipartisan fashion. I hope to see the Forever GI Bill pass in the U.S. Senate and be signed into law so our veterans and their families can get the benefits they deserve.
House Agriculture Committee Hearing on Renegotiating NAFTA
This week the House Agriculture Committee met to discuss how to protect and promote agriculture during the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It is clear that NAFTA needs to be upgraded and modernized to better reflect the needs of the American people in the 21st century. With that in mind, we should not forget that the agriculture industry has been one of the bright spots benefiting from the economic agreement. California agriculture exports have increased three fold over the last decade, in large part due to NAFTA. California has more at stake than any other state in any renegotiation of NAFTA, given our integration into the international market. Let’s not forget that currently around 22% of agriculture exports from our state go to Canada and Mexico. This is why, as a member of the Agriculture Committee, I made sure to bring California agriculture to the forefront of the committee’s hearing on NAFTA. Any renegotiation of this trade deal needs to keep in mind a “do no harm” mantra, especially when it comes to agriculture.
Since 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children the opportunity to pursue the American dream by granting them a period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. This week I spoke on the House floor about the importance of maintaining this program. We should not penalize those who were brought to our country in pursuit of a better life – as immigrants have done throughout our history – and we should always try to keep families together whenever possible. For these reasons, I urge the Administration to stand with me in protecting DACA.
Returning to Responsible Governing
This past week the House passed the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which contains four of the twelve appropriations bills the House is required to pass each fiscal year to fund the government. I voted against this legislation because this bill represents a broken process and a departure from how Congress is supposed to work. With just 13 legislative days left until the end of the fiscal year, the House still must pass several critical bills, including Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization, National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization, and legislation raising the debt ceiling and funding the remainder of the government. Government should not operate this way, on deadline driven legislation. This course of action leads to bad laws and bad results for the American people. As always, I stand ready to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to get Congress working properly again and to deliver the results the American people deserve.
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