Good afternoon. I would like to provide a few updates about recent developments in Congress and share some important information.
Status of COVID Relief
On October 1st, the House passed an updated version of the Heroes Act, a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The package includes:
- Nearly $500 billion for state and local governments
- $75 billion for coronavirus testing
- An additional $1,200 check for individuals
- A renewal of $600 weekly unemployment benefits
- Additional funding for schools, the Postal Service, food stamps, rental assistance and election security, and
- Emergency funds for the airline and restaurant industries
After the House passed the updated Heroes Act, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin responded with a $1.8 trillion counteroffer. Since then, the Administration indicated it would be open to negotiating for more funding. Speaker Pelosi continues to negotiate with Secretary Mnuchin and is confident that a deal will be reached soon.
I believe the sooner the better for delivering relief to Americans struggling today. Like many other communities around the country, our district’s food bank lines are longer now than ever, restaurants and small businesses are on the verge of closing for good, and working families are unable to afford paying their rent and mortgages. The American people need help right now.
Introducing the 21st Century Jobs Act
I introduced the 21st Century Jobs Act to ensure the future of work is accessible to every American and that the U.S. leads the digital age. My bill would create a Federal Institute of Technology (FIT), with approximately 30 locations across the country, and allocates $900 billion in Research and Development funding for emerging technologies like advanced manufacturing, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and cybersecurity. The 21st Century Jobs Act also includes:
- Funding for better and more widespread STEM instruction in public schools, specifically focused on computer science.
- STEM scholarships for students left behind.
- Tax incentives for the federal government’s contractors to locate part of their workforce in rural and forgotten areas across America, and
- $8 billion toward teacher training in STEM fields.
Government investments in science in the decades after World War II created the greatest middle class the world has ever seen. This bill will make sure that the jobs of the future are in the U.S., and that they will be spread all around our great nation, rather than focused on a small set of superstar cities.
Updates in the District
Our Santa Clara District Office staff has been working diligently to resolve federal agency inquiries. Just last month, we assisted over a hundred constituents with immigration, passport, IRS, FBI, and USPS requests. Please contact our office through this form if you have a federal issue we can assist with: https://khanna.house.gov/services/help-with-a-federal-agency. We are committed to serving you through this pandemic and beyond.
Additionally, we have hosted several town hall meetings, including our Mental Health Town Hall. In the age of COVID-19 and shelter in place, many constituents are finding their wellness under new levels of strain. We see it taking a toll on our young students, families, teachers, and community at large. We must support each other by having conversations with our loved ones and seeking out professional support during these difficult times. I encourage you to watch our Town Halls, available on my Facebook page, to better understand how to confront these issues and the resources available during shelter in place.
The South Bay Odor Stakeholders’ Group held its quarterly meeting this month where the Bay Area Air Quality Management District staff reported that the South Bay Odor Source Study, which was scheduled to start in August, was delayed due to the wildfire-related air quality in the region. The study was rescheduled to start this week and is intended to identify the source of the odor. The City of Milpitas has its own separate odor impact study, which was suspended but started up again as well. Together, these studies will go a long way in identifying where mitigation efforts should be focused.
Additionally, an agreement was reached between San Jose City, the Republic’s Newby Island Material Recovery Facility and the Zero Waste Energy Development Company’s anaerobic digestion facility to separate all wet and dry materials. As a result, resident air quality complaints have dropped. There will also be an information campaign for commercial businesses to encourage the separation of dry recyclables from landfill-bound dry waste as a part of the agreement.
I will be monitoring this issue closely and will do everything I can to see that regional odor is decreased as much as possible.
Facebook Live Town Halls
Thank you to all who participated in this month’s Facebook Live town halls. In November, I will host Facebook Live town halls on November 2nd and November 12th at noon Pacific. Please be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @RepRoKhanna.
Preventing Future Pandemics
I, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 139 other members of Congress, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to prioritize the development of comprehensive policy plans to prevent and mitigate the impact of future pandemics. In the letter, we outline the necessary steps to prevent future pandemics while also noting that Congress must act to provide relief to Americans suffering from the current economic downturn and public health emergency.
Free Prisoners of Conscience in Egypt
I sent a letter with over 50 of my House and Senate colleagues to Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, urging him to release human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and other prisoners of conscience before their unjust imprisonments become death sentences in the face of massive COVID outbreaks in Egyptian prisons. The imprisonment of prisoners of conscience and other violations of human rights fundamentally undermines our countries’ mutual interests and values.
Caseworkers in my Santa Clara office are available to help Silicon Valley residents navigate the bureaucracy of federal agencies and any other concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. My staff can help you solve problems with immigration, visas, Social Security payments and VA paperwork, among other areas. Please call my office at (408) 436-2720 between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday if you need assistance. Your call will be promptly answered (remotely) by my staff. You can also contact me online at any time at Khanna.house.gov/contact. While we are unable to meet in-person, my staff is ready to help. Visit my website for more information.