The House of Representatives is not meeting in Washington until after Labor Day, which allows members to return home to work in our districts. I am glad to be home for the month of August, working for and talking to the people I have the honor of representing. With that in mind, I wanted to take the time to share what I have been doing to improve the lives of all my constituents as we were wrapping up our summer session in Washington.
Proposing Solutions to Improve our Nation’s Health Care System
As the debate over our nation’s health care system continues, it is clear that the only way to fix the problems we all face is for Democrats and Republicans to work together. As a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus – a bipartisan group of House members focused on finding a path forward for responsible governance – I have been part of our group’s effort to promote bipartisan solutions for our country’s health care system. This week we announced our proposal to help improve the health care system in America. The proposal focuses on stabilizing the individual health care market and states the importance of improving patient choice and responsibility, creating incentives for providers to lower costs, and giving states more flexibility in implementing health care policy. Our suggestions center on areas of common ground where members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have shown they are willing to work to help give individuals, families, and businesses access to high-quality, affordable health care. It is my hope that the Problem Solvers’ proposal will serve as the beginning of a serious, bipartisan effort in Congress to fix the problems with our health care system.
Introducing Legislation Supporting Employment Training for SNAP Recipients
Last week, I introduced the Results Through Innovation Act of 2017 (H.R. 3577) into the House of Representatives, which would help bolster federal funding for employment and training (E&T) programs for individuals receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP E&T programs – such as those at the Fresno Bridge Academy – aim at helping SNAP recipients secure gainful employment through work-related education, job training, and job advancement classes so they can ultimately become self-sufficient. HR 3577 would establish a competitive grant program to provide funds to States to carry out targeted employment and training projects. The bill outlines that programs awarded these funds should increase the short-term and long-term employment as well as income earnings for households receiving SNAP benefits, support a range of rural and urban areas, and provide support services to individuals to help enable them to participate in the program, such as transportation reimbursement and childcare. We have seen these innovative practices work in the past, and my bill would help build on this success, helping millions of Americans lift themselves out of poverty and become self-reliant, all while saving taxpayers money.
Working to End Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a crime that is often overlooked in our society today and is far too common, especially among our nation’s young people. As a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I have been working to shed light on this issue and find ways to both prevent sexual assault and protect victims. The Task Force recently sent a letter to Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, urging them to keep public the list of colleges and universities under investigations for possible federal law violations over their handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. This list has been available to the public through the Office of Civil Rights since May 2014, and the transparency it provides both allows parents and students to make informed decisions about where to attend school and helps communities understand the scope of the sexual assault problem facing them in their own schools.
Fighting for Affordable Housing
Access to affordable, quality housing is a cornerstone of the American dream. In pursuit of that dream, public housing provides critical support for low-income seniors, children, individuals with disabilities, and working families. President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) would cut funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by an astounding $1.8 billion, or 68%, and is deeply concerning. These cuts would have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income Americans and would expose many to increased health risks associated with aging home infrastructure. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which I am a member, sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson opposing these cuts and advocating for stronger local partnerships with HUD to preserve and improve public housing for years to come. When proper investments are made, local housing agencies – like those in Fresno – have demonstrated great ability in improving the health and lives of their residents.
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 page and twitter account.
Member of Congress