2018 Year in Review
Happy holidays, Silicon Valley!
As we close out an eventful 2018, I want to reflect on the privilege it has been to represent you in Congress. I am grateful for each of you who took the time to make your voice heard by contacting me with your views and concerns. My Santa Clara and Washington, DC offices received 33,230 calls, e-mails, and letters from CA-17 residents who care deeply about their how the government works for their families and communities. Your passion is inspiring and helps me be a more informed and effective representative.
I would like to highlight some of our work and accomplishments in Washington, DC and here in the Bay Area over the past year that has contributed to progress made towards improving the lives of the people in our region and across the country.
Constituent Service Award Nomination
In January, our district office was informed that we qualified for the semifinals of the Congressional Management Foundation’s Constituent Services award, which is an honor for any first-term member of Congress. With more than 80 percent of our case work related to immigration, our constituents and their families face serious challenges. We are proud of the level to which we have been able to help them solve problems and make government work for them. This year we have completed more than 750 cases for Silicon Valley residents who needed help navigating the federal bureaucracy.
Fighting Airplane Noise in the South Bay
In September, I wrote a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asking for the disruptive Bay Side Visual flight path to be eliminated. The FAA responded a month later, confirming that our request has been granted, and the route into the San Carlos Airport has been canceled. This is a big victory for all residents in the area who have had to deal with disruptive airplane noise.
Steve Kerr Joins Student Town Hall on Gun Violence
This past March, Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr joined me at Newark Memorial High School for a discussion with Matt Deitsch, a Stoneman Douglas High School graduate and the Community Outreach Director for March for Our Lives. Coach Kerr, Matt, and I talked with students about what we can do to reduce gun violence and prevent further tragedies. That same month, more than 800 marches from San Jose to Washington, DC showed that America’s youth are driving this conversation and that it is long past time for Congress to respond.
Addressing Milpitas Landfill Odor
For years, residents of Milpitas have endured an unpleasant odor generated by incoming yard trimmings mixed with food waste waiting to be put on to composting piles at the Newby Island facility. My office worked with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty to write to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, asking for a regional odor study to verify the main sources conclusively, and to pay for sensors to be distributed around Milpitas to help with that verification. Our office is also working with state Assemblymember Kansen Chu’s office to pressure the Local Enforcement Authority and CalRecycle to enforce odor standards.
Pushing to End U.S. Military Involvement in the War in Yemen
I have been working for nearly two years to end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-coalition-led war in Yemen, which has left more than 14 million Yemeni civilians, many of which are children, at risk of famine and a cholera epidemic. In a major victory, the Senate recently passed its version of the War Powers Resolution that I am leading in the House, yet outgoing Speaker Ryan has refused to allow my resolution to come to the floor for a vote.
I am heartened by the recently-negotiated ceasefire in this Saudi-Iran proxy war that will allow humanitarian aid and supplies to enter the country through the port of Hodeida. Additionally, the Administration recently announced an end to U.S. support for the refueling of Saudi-coalition bombers that has contributed to casualties and widespread suffering of millions of innocent Yemenis. I will continue pushing for peace in 2019 and am pleased that Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has assured me personally that the House will vote on my War Powers Resolution after I reintroduce it in January in order to take back the Constitutional authority granted to Congress for military intervention overseas.
Modernizing Government Websites
I introduced the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), which passed both the House and Senate and has been signed by the President. This legislation, which brings government websites into the 21st Century, is the second bill I have introduced that has become law – the most among first-term Democrats. This common-sense solution will help improve how every American interacts with their government online while saving time and taxpayer money by modernizing and streamlining federal forms and the government process.
Raising Wages for 350,000 Amazon Employees
In September, Senator Bernie Sanders and I introduced the Stop BEZOS Act, legislation taking on corporate welfare and the big companies that rake in massive profits for their shareholders and executives on the backs of severely underpaid workers. A few weeks later, Amazon bowed to pressure that our legislation had created and was compelled to announce that wages for all employees, including part-time and seasonal workers, will go up to at least $15.00 an hour. It is the responsibility of all corporations, especially those making billions of dollars, to ensure that those who work hard for them are justly compensated and can afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Protecting Americans Online with the Internet Bill of Rights
Online privacy and the protection of personal data is now a critical priority for American consumers. The government’s response to the Equifax breach, Cambridge Analytica scandal and other serious violations exposed an information gap among members of Congress. I was proud that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi tasked me, as one of Silicon Valley’s representatives, to outline ten principles which we can use to guide legislation defining clear and concise online protections.
I am hopeful that my principles will form the basis of an “Internet Bill of Rights” to protect consumer data privacy. In consultation with the founder of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, and other technologists, I proposed these guidelines as explained in a piece in TIME Magazine. As we continue to live more of our lives online, and as technology continues to rapidly advance, it is vital that we establish reasonable and robust protections, just as our forefathers did when laying the foundation of our nation. I am hopeful that the Internet Bill of Rights will be considered next year and will work toward passing it.
Taking on Big Pharma and Excessive Prescription Drug Prices
In November, Sen. Sanders and I announced our bill that will take on Big Pharma’s price-gouging of sick and aging Americans. Big Pharma upcharges us because we don’t have any patient protections, but this bill changes that: If a drug company decides to sell their product for higher than the median price that they sell that same drug to our friends in Canada, Japan, and Europe, then the company loses its government-granted market monopoly, and generic drug producers can enter the market and bring the price down through competition.
One in four Americans reports difficulty paying for their prescription drugs and, overall, Americans pay 40 percent or more for pharmaceuticals than similar countries. That’s just not right. Medicine should not condemn a person to a lifetime of debt. Sick and elderly Americans should not be forced to choose between food and life-saving prescriptions. It is past time for Congress to stand up to the powerful Pharma lobbyists, and Sen. Sanders and I will be leading that fight.
Putting Americans Back to Work
In July, I introduced the Job Opportunities for All Act, which invests in putting Americans back to work. There are eight million Americans who want to work but cannot find jobs, and another 4.7 million who want full-time jobs but can only find part-time work. In response, my bill builds on the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights by directing federal funds to grants and programs providing Americans with private and public-sector job opportunities with a focus on economically distressed communities. No one should be denied the opportunity to earn a living in the richest country on Earth.
Monthly Town Hall Meetings
In keeping with my promise to the people of CA-17 when you first sent me to Congress, I have held at least one town hall meeting every month, continuing through 2018. This year, we held two town halls each in Milpitas, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and San Jose District 4, and one each in Cupertino, Fremont, San Jose District 1, and Newark. An average of 150 constituents have attended this year, and I have been able to answer most of your questions at each town hall.
Thank you for the privilege of representing you in Congress. I vow to spend 2019 the same way I spent 2018: Fighting for a just economy that benefits all people, a foreign policy that does not rely on war, and a government that listens and works for you.
Moving forward, it is important for me to hear from my constituents. Whether it’s a quick phone call, writing our office, or asking a question at one of my monthly town halls, I always appreciate hearing from you. Let’s keep up the energy in 2019!
Health Care Open Enrollment
There is less than a month left for Californians to get health care coverage for 2019. The ACA open enrollment period ends on January 15. Visit www.CoveredCA.com to be sure that you’re covered. Most people can find plans for between $50 and $100 per month. Even if you were covered before, take a few minutes to look around – you might end up saving money.
Case workers in my Santa Clara office are available to help CA-17 residents navigate the bureaucracy of federal agencies. My staff can assist with immigration or visa issues, Social Security payments, and VA paperwork among other areas. Visit my website for more information.