2019 Year in Review
Happy holidays, Silicon Valley!
As we close out an eventful 2019, I want to reflect on the privilege it has been to represent you in Congress over the past three years. I am grateful for each of 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 33,206 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 improving the lives of the people in our region and across the country.
The Impeachment Vote
Yesterday, I voted with a majority of my colleagues to impeach President Donald J. Trump. President Trump is now the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, with his case now moving to the Senate, which will conduct a trial that will decide whether he is to be removed from office. The President has abused his office by withholding congressionally-approved security aid to Ukraine while attempting to extort a politically beneficial investigation by Ukrainian officials. This is a clear case of President Trump placing his political interests ahead of the national interests. His conduct cannot be tolerated, and that is why I voted in favor of impeachment. I was elected, in part, to defend and uphold the rule of law in the United States. I cast my vote with this solemn duty in mind.
Winning the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) Democracy Award for Constituent Services
The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) nominated our office as a finalist for the 2019 Democracy Awards, CMF’s program recognizing non-legislative achievement by congressional offices and Members of Congress. Our office was subsequently recognized as the winner among the nominees for the best constituent services among 435 House offices. The President of CMF commented, “This demonstrates that Rep. Khanna has made a significant commitment to being the best public servant for his constituents in California. Rep. Khanna and his staff are to be congratulated for not only being a model for colleagues in Congress, but for helping to restore trust and faith that our democratic institutions can work.”
Caseworkers in my Santa Clara office are available to help Silicon Valley residents navigate the bureaucracy of federal agencies. My staff can help you solve problems with immigration, visas, Social Security payments and VA paperwork, among other areas. Please note our new location at 3150 De La Cruz Blvd., Suite 240, Santa Clara, CA 95054. We are just north of the Trimble/De La Cruz exit off Highway 101. Visit my website for more information.
Our office handles more immigration cases than any other congressional office in the region. For that work, as well as the many VA, Social Security, and other federal cases we handle, I am incredibly proud of the tremendous job we have done for our constituents.
Passing My Fifth Piece of Legislation
On Tuesday, the House voted overwhelmingly (408-1) to pass my fifth bill, the Identifying Barriers and Best Practices Study Act (H.R. 4183). This simple and bipartisan bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a three-year study of disability and pension benefits that were provided to veteran members who served in special missions, such as pilots and divers, and who served on reserve components of the Armed Forces while on active duty. The multi-year study would examine disability and pension data from 2008 to 2018 in order to identify whether any barriers exist specifically for these veterans. Additionally, the study will request recommendations for overcoming those barriers for veterans. The brave men and women who served our country deserve access to the full measure of benefits they earned.
In addition to this important bill, I have also passed the VALOR Act, which makes it easier for veterans to access apprenticeships; the 21st Century IDEA, which improves user experience on government websites; and two resolutions regarding U.S. participation in Yemen: one which condemned crimes against humanity in the war and another which directed the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from the conflict, absent congressional authorization.
Keeping My Promise with 35 Consecutive Monthly Town Halls
When I was first elected, I promised to hold monthly town hall meetings where constituents would be given the opportunity to ask me questions about any issue. Since February 2017, we have hosted 35 consecutive monthly town halls across CA-17. Every month I am again reminded how valuable these opportunities are to connect with our communities. I am always inspired by you at these meetings and consider your feedback to be the most important that I receive.
Recouping Millions in Tax Dollars from Corrupt Defense Contractors
In May, defense contractor TransDigm refunded $16.1 million in excess profits to the Department of Defense (DoD) after I chaired a hearing of the House Oversight Committee to investigate its monopolistic business practices. The hearing was convened in response to my request of DoD’s inspector to explain how TransDigm was price-gouging the U.S. Armed Forces for spare aircraft parts with profit margins of almost 4,500 percent.
In February, the inspector concluded that TransDigm was operating as a hidden monopolist. At the hearing, members on both sides of the aisle condemned TransDigm’s behavior and demanded a refund. This is a good example of what happens when Congress exercises its oversight power to hold bad actors accountable to the American people. I was proud to lead this investigation resulting in the refund, and you can be assured that I will continue to closely monitor defense spending to improve competition and efficiency.
Securing Visas for Transplant Recipient in San Jose
In June, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Lam Le and Hiep Nguyen were granted temporary visas in order to provide life-saving medical bone marrow to their brother, Tu Le of San Jose, who is undergoing treatment for a rare form of blood cancer. The two brothers applied for visitor visas in order to provide bone marrow for the procedure, but on June 3rd, 2019 were initially denied entry into the United States. I joined with Senator Harris and Rep. Zoe Lofgren to appeal to federal officials in the U.S. and the American consul in Vietnam. On June 18, 2019, we were informed that Mr. Nguyen and Mr. Le were granted B2 visas in order to donate blood.
Locating a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant is extremely difficult. Even within one’s own family, only around 30 percent of individuals in need of a transplant find a perfect match, and the chances go down for individuals of color. Thus, bringing Mr. Le’s brothers to the United States for this live-saving procedure was of the utmost importance.
Yemen WPR Passes the House and Senate, Vetoed by President Trump
In April, the House of Representatives voted 247 to 175 to pass my bipartisan and bicameral joint resolution invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to finally end unconstitutional U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. This resolution was also passed by the Senate with a 54-46 bipartisan majority. Unfortunately, President Trump chose to veto the resolution and continue U.S. military complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe that has killed over 100,000 people with millions more on the brink of starvation.
My legislation was also passed with strong bipartisan support by the House as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act along with an amendment to prevent the U.S. from going to war with Iran. I regret that these amendments were also removed by the Senate Republican majority.
However, I am encouraged by the direction Americans are pushing our party to take on foreign policy – promoting restraint and human rights, and for Congress to play a much larger role and assert its constitutional authority. We are now another step closer to ending this crisis. Our congressional pressure and the passage of our resolutions led the Trump Administration to suspend refueling of Saudi and Emirati bombers and resulted in a ceasefire at the port of Hodeida. Our bipartisan and bicameral success will also caution this and future administrations from going to war without first seeking authorization from Congress. I will not give up this fight and will continue to lead my colleagues in Congress to work with stakeholders and advocates for peace and to cut off all U.S. participation in this war.
Continued Work to Address Odor and Airplane Noise Issues
Addressing odor and airplane noise issues for constituents in CA-17 is one of my top priorities. This year, we successfully encouraged broad participation in the South Bay Odor Stakeholders Group and promoted group buy-in to the year-long Bay Area Air Quality Management District odor source study. Source identification will lead to improvements in mitigation, oversight and enforcement, and ultimately to improving the quality of life for residents. On airplane noise, our office has been working with the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties Airport/Community Roundtable since it first convened in February of this year. We are engaged in promoting a collaborative path towards addressing community noise concerns with concrete actions.
Honoring Local Veteran Heroes
I was honored to present the Congressional Gold Medal to Mr. Shunso Watanabe for his service as a Nisei (second generation Japanese American) soldier during WWII and I also had the opportunity to recognize Mr. Takashi Jack Sato with a Bronze Star for his heroic service in the Korean War. These two veterans, along with six others recognized in a Veterans Day ceremony at my town hall, provide us all with role models in courage and service to our nation.
A Few of My Op-Eds
The New York Times
Ro Khanna and John Kerry
Sherrod Brown, Ro Khanna, and Bonnie Watson Coleman
Ro Khanna, Michael McFaul, and Alex Stamos