It’s been a busy couple weeks in Washington as I worked with my colleagues in the House on legislation from funding the government to enhancing immigration practices. Here are some highlights from the last two weeks:
Addressing the climate crisis
Our district has witnessed the devastating effects of climate change for far too long, including droughts and dangerous wildfires. Last week I took the opportunity to speak on the House floor about the importance of finding ways to fight this crisis. I refuse to sit back and do nothing. For years I have worked for meaningful solutions to address this issue and that will continue. Time is running out!
During National Clean Energy Week, I cosponsored H.Res.565 – Recognizing Clean Energy Week reaffirming my support for commonsense initiatives to address modern energy needs. I’ll continue to work towards achieving sustainable solutions to these challenges.
As Chairman of the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, I held a joint hearing with the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management to review implementation of federal farm and disaster programs. In California, 66% of dairy farms have signed up for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
I also took the opportunity to ask Under Secretary Northey about Market Facilitation program payments, which help farmers offset losses from the trade war with China. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Congressman Filemon Vela, and myself led efforts to include Commodity Credit Corporation payments in the upcoming Continuing Resolution, which would fund the government through November 21.
While we work to resolve this trade dispute, it’s important that farmers have the relief they need to keep putting food on America’s dinner table.
I’d also like to announce that the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) signup period is here! This program, which I fought hard to include in the 2018 Farm Bill, allows landowners and farmers to partner with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to implement projects that address a wide range of conservation concerns. Click here for more information on how to apply.
The Farm Bill also included a provision officially banning the trade and consumption of dog and cat meat in the United States. I attended an event hosted by World Dog Alliance to learn more about their efforts to stop the practice in other countries around the globe.
Working for fair immigration policy
As a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I work towards finding common sense solutions to our country’s immigration crisis. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 3524 – the Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act to attack the causes of migration at their source and bring relief to Central American countries.
I’m also working to address recent policy changes in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Agency.
The Administration announced that children of service members and government employees serving overseas will have to apply for citizenship, breaking from the current operating policy. I wrote a letter to Acting Director Cuccinelli of USCIS to better understand the reason for this sudden shift and the impact it would have. I also requested information from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan to clarify the evaluation process.
Applications and naturalizations of our service members have dropped considerably. Our aim is to ensure that those who have risked their lives in service of this country at least have a clear understanding of the citizenship process.
Additionally, in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement that it will not provide Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to victims of Hurricane Dorian, I cosponsored H.R. 4232 – the TPS for Victims of Hurricane Dorian Act of 2019, to grant TPS to Bahamian nationals present in the United States. In the face of such disasters, the U.S. must exercise leadership in humanitarian relief.
Fighting for veteran’s families
As the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act continues to be negotiated, my colleagues and I submitted a letter urging the House and Senate Armed Services leadership to preserve a fix for the “widow’s tax.” For nearly half a century, surviving families of service members have been unable to receive full benefits from both the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). By not working to fix this unfair offset, we are sending the wrong message to the members of our armed forces and their families.
In honor of National Passport Awareness Month, I cosponsored H.R. 3503 – the Passport Assistance for Disadvantaged Students Act. This legislation will allow students who are accepted to Study Abroad programs and who receive Pell Grants to be provided U.S. Passports at no cost. Efforts like these grant students the ability to gain the intercultural and global skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly globalized workforce.
Valley lands big dollars
Our office always works to see that our taxpayer dollars comes back to the district. I’m pleased to report that FEMA and the CA Department of Housing and Community Development (CADHCD) recently announced two grants coming back to us: The City of Gustine will receive $618,942 from FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant to boost capacity for firefighting and emergency response. I was pleased to urge Acting Administrator Logan to consider Gustine for this grant in a letter of support back in October, 2018. In addition, the City of Los Banos will receive $500,000 from CADHCD’s Code Enforcement Program to improve the building safety of residential neighborhoods.
Honoring a community voice
Two weeks ago, voice of Fresno State baseball, Raymond O’ Canto, passed away. A Valley native, Ray was widely-respected throughout the community, exhibiting a passion for life few could match. I took the opportunity this week to recognize him on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He will be missed my many.