We’re back in Washington to work on important legislation to enhance our election security, officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, and create better systems to support our agricultural economy. Here are some highlights:
Protecting Valley agriculture
America’s farmers are in need of a legal and reliable workforce. I am pleased to help introduce and cosponsor the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, I am all too familiar with the labor shortages our farmers have been struggling with for years and the hardships of employees living without protective status. Farm workers are part of communities in the Valley. As I’ve always said, food security is a national security issue and these hardworking people put food on America’s dinner table every night. Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to find a way to provide a path to residency for these hardworking individuals, without whom California agriculture and our local economy could not thrive.
Earlier this month, I held a town hall with Reps. Lofgren, Panetta, and Cox to discuss issues addressed by the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
I’m also pleased to announce that hard working Valley farmers are receiving the recognition they deserve. At this year’s Annual Agricultural Awards Luncheon, Cannon Michael and Bowles Farming Company received the Business of the Year award for their contributions to the ag industry as well as their continued emphasis on values like ethical treatment of workers and sustainable production. In addition, Mark Borba received the 2019 Agriculturalist of the Year award for not only his leadership in the agricultural industry, but for his countless hours spent giving back to the community. Recognitions such as these reaffirm that Fresno County is indeed the number one agricultural county in the nation.
Protecting our democracy
As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am working to determine if the President’s interactions with Ukraine undermined our democracy. The evidence gathered so far grows more alarming by the day. We cannot turn a blind eye to abuse of power. I’m committed to following the facts where they lead. I voted for H.R. 660 to set forth the investigative framework to do just that.
The House passed H.R.4617 – the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, which I cosponsored. This legislation is another important step in ensuring the integrity of our democracy and strengthening our ability to prevent foreign interference at various stages of the election process. The SHIELD Act would ban PAC contributions, limit the exchange of campaign information, increase transparency of online political ads, and create reporting requirements for campaign assistance offers from foreign governments or their agents. With the 2020 election just around the corner, I am hopeful the Senate will act responsibly and take up this important legislation at the earliest opportunity.
In light of the recent hostilities in Northern Syria, Turkey has once again revealed itself as a bad actor in the region. I’m pleased the House passed H.R.4695 – a bill providing for the implementation of swift sanctions on Turkey, which I cosponsored.
Fighting for water
The Federal Government released updated biological opinions for the Central Valley Project (CVP) earlier this week. The Endangered Species’ Act mandates periodic reviews to ensure we follow the best available science. It’s important to update these biological opinions with new science and that’s what we’ve done. I am committed to reviewing this latest information to ensure proper management of the CVP for all Californians. My goal is to secure a reliable water supply for California agriculture, improve clean drinking water for our valley communities and address environmental issues.
Valley lands big dollars
Our office always works to see that your taxpayer dollars come back to the district. I’m pleased to report that California recently received $11.6 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant funding to retrofit and replace old, polluting diesel vehicles and equipment. Earlier this year, Senators Harris, Feinstein, and Reps. Harder, Cox, and I, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler about the importance of receiving these funds.
The Department of Transportation also recently announced that the City of Fresno will receive a $10 million dollar BUILD grant, the final piece of funding for the $120 million dollar Veterans Boulevard project.This is exciting news for Fresno as the project will help improve our air quality, traffic safety and the economy. I’m thrilled to see that our persistence paid off.
In order to prioritize clean energy tax policies in an end of the year tax bill, I sent a letter to House Democratic Leadership to explain their importance for increasing sustainability.
In a meeting with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) leaders, they assured me that they will review their progress on a range of issues such as implementing 2018 Farm Bill programs, trade, and the ongoing tomato seed import problem.