The last few weeks in Washington D.C. have been quite busy, with efforts focused on trying to improve healthcare, safety, and economic opportunity for the American people. With that in mind, I wanted to take this time to share what I have been doing to improve the lives of all my constituents as we approach the fall.
Fighting for Bipartisan Healthcare Reform
This week the U.S. Senate failed to vote on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare reform bill, which would have replaced portions of the Affordable Care Act and resulted in sweeping changes to the nation’s healthcare system. While I was glad the Senate did not vote on this legislation, which would have had devastating consequences to healthcare delivery for Valley residents, it is clear that work remains to stabilize the nation’s healthcare system. As I have been saying for years, now is the time for Members of Congress to reach across the aisle to work towards practical, long-term solutions to help provide options and bring costs down for all Americans. That is why I sent a letterwith the rest of the Problem Solvers Caucus to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urging bipartisanship in efforts to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Earlier this summer the Problem Solvers Caucus – a group of Republican and Democratic representatives working to find a path forward for responsible governance – released a bipartisan set of healthcare proposals to help improve the health care system for families and businesses across America. It is long past time for Congress to come together on this issue to provide lasting solutions for all Americans, regardless of party.
Improving the Valley Economy
We in the Valley know full well the critical role we play in supplying the country with the food that ends up on Americans’ dinner tables each night. One key part of our ability to feed the nation and the world is our poultry industry, with Merced and Fresno counties representing the top two chicken producing counties in the state. The poultry industry has also been a tremendous economic engine for California and our San Joaquin Valley. That is why, over the years, I have fought for policies that encourage production of safe, high-quality, and wholesome poultry, and I was recently awarded a lifetime achievement “Golden Rooster Award” from the California Poultry Federation. To keep our economy moving, it is critical that we work with businesses like those in the poultry industry to promote investment in our communities and to avoid burdensome regulations while providing necessary protections for consumers.
Congressman Costa accepts the Golden Rooster Award from the California Poultry Federation
Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners
In every war in our country’s history, civilian ships have helped support our military by transporting personnel and supplies. These civilians are collectively referred to as Merchant Mariners. Those who served our nation during World War II have never received full veteran benefits, meaning they are not eligible for tuition subsides, home loan guarantees, or other G.I. Bill provisions that have helped millions. That is why I recently joined as a cosponsor of the Honoring our WWII Merchant Mariners Act, which would provide a one-time payment of $25,000 to surviving WWII Mariners. This bipartisan bill will ensure that those who supported our troops get the benefits they have earned, and I hope to see it passed into law soon.
Working to Fight and Prevent Wildfires
California’s recent unprecedented drought has devastated our state’s forests, and now there are an estimated 107 million dead trees serving as a tinder box for our historically-common wildfires. We are currently seeing the effects, with 1,057 wildfires burning over 300,000 acres of National Forest System lands in California so far during this fire year. It is therefore critical that we start treating wildfires like the natural disasters they are. We must stop the never-ending cycle of underfunding the forest management that prevents wildfires in the first place in order to pay for emergency wildfire suppression, which is why I support legislation such as the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act.
The Mission Fire and Railroad Fire have ravaged our Valley, and we must do whatever we can to suppress the fires and help each other recover from their destruction. That is why I wrote a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke urging him to advocate for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, which will allow for the necessary federal funds to help us in our firefighting efforts and to support victims. Additionally, the State of California’s requests for federal emergency grants to help suppress the Railroad and Mission fires were approved earlier this month. Both grants are Fire Management Assistance Grants, which are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).I hope to see these grants used as quickly as possible to help to compensate our local communities for their efforts to suppress the Mission Fire and the Railroad Fire, and to assist in their recovery.
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