Key Legislative Accomplishments
- Successfully enacted a measure in the Highway Bill to protect the public from faulty guardrails on roads and highways
- Authored legislation to strengthen accountability and oversight for so-called “megaprojects,” like the Bay Bridge, by creating a system that manages costs, foresees risks, and holds decision-makers accountable
- Spearheaded bipartisan legislation to rebuild public trust by increasing transparency during the project selection process to ensure that investments are based on merit as opposed to politics or connections
Oversight & Accountability
- Worked to safeguard the public from harmful emissions by calling on the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into allegations that Volkswagen AG purposefully evaded California air quality standards
- Pursued investigations of ExxonMobil’s alleged fraud related to climate change by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform
- Authored legislation to make college more affordable by decreasing interest rates on federal student loans
- Successfully amended current law to allow Head Start programs to run more efficiently
- Passed a measure into law to encourage schools to keep student athletes safe by developing a set of standards for responding to concussions
- Passed bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives to expand the John Muir National Historic Site and improve access to the park and its scenic trails
- Promoted legislation to prevent against another BP oil spill by strengthening protections for whistleblowers on offshore oil and gas facilities
Congressman DeSaulnier’s Legislative Accomplishments in 114th Congress
In the 114th Congress, Congressman DeSaulnier successfully enacted 7 amendments into law. He also passed 3 additional amendments out of the House of Representatives.
AMENDMENTS ENACTED INTO LAW
- Guardrail Study: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.749 to H.R. 22) to the FAST Act (P.L.114-94)
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to study methods of inventorying roadside highway safety hardware devices (i.e. guardrails) for the purpose of improving in-service evaluation of these devices.
Background: In 2014, Darryl Blackmon, a 24-year-old Bay Area football star, was killed in a violent crash that experts suggest was survivable if it hadn't been for the guardrail he struck. The type of guardrail he slammed into has been blamed for deaths and injuries across the country. The company that produced the guardrail has been found to have altered its design without appropriate Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) authorization. Congressman DeSaulnier along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal and others requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate concerns that FHWA was not providing adequate oversight of roadside hardware infrastructure. Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment was a step in comprehensively identifying roadside hardware infrastructure to improve driver safety. GAO released their report publicly on July 7, 2016.
- Strengthening Family Engagement in Education: Included during conference negotiations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177, P.L.114-95)
Congressman DeSaulnier worked with Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05) to author the Family Engagement in Education Act (H.R. 1194) to provide resources for schools to improve engagement in education. DeSaulnier and Thompson’s legislation was created a new grant program included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which helps states facilitate a family’s involvement in a student’s learning, which has been proven to enhance student performance. These grants can be used to create statewide family engagement centers and to provide assistance to school districts that already have similar programs.
- Maintaining 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Included during conference negotiations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177, P.L.114-95)
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program is the primary source of funding to states for before school, after school, and intersession funding. Engaging students during non-school hours allow them to have a safe and healthy environment in which to learn and grow. The original House proposal (H.R. 5) significantly undermined this program, but the final version of ESSA was successful in preserving this funding stream. California recieved over $132 million in 21st Century Community Learning Center money in FY15.
Background: This amendment, to maintain the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, failed in Committee, failed in Rules Committee, but Congressman DeSaulnier was able to insert it into the final compromise version of the bill.
- Streamlining Head Start: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.35 to H.R. 5) to the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177, P.L.114-95)
Prior to ESSA enactment, Head Start agencies were required to sign agreements with school districts to operate in their jurisdiction, but no requirement existed for schools. This led to Head Start agencies wasting time and resources while agreements were organized. This amendment simply requires both Head Start agencies and school districts to sign agreements. Anticipated implementation for 2017-18 school year.
Background: Passed by voice vote on the floor of the House and was included in the final version of the bill.
- Preventing Student Concussions: Included during conference negotiations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (S.1177, P.L.114-95)
Congressman DeSaulnier introduced the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act (H.R. 2026), which requires education and establishes limitations on when students can return to physical activity or return to the classroom after receiving a concussion. This bill was rolled into the final version of ESSA by allowing schools to use grant money to educate students and faculty on the signs and symptoms of concussions, as well as the proper treatment of students who have been diagnosed with concussions. The timeline for implementation of the grant program is unknown due to the Continuing Resolution limiting funding to FY16 (pre-ESSA) levels.
- Separating Service Member’s Financial Transparency: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.1018 to H.R. 4909) to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act.
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment requires Transition Assistance Program (TAP) counselors to inform separating members of the U.S. Armed Forces that any separation pay received may reduce the amount of future VA disability benefits received.
Background: Service members leaving the military often receive separation pay to facilitate their reentrance into civilian life. Unfortunately, many of these brave men and women suffer visible and invisible wounds in service to their country, and consequently become eligible for disability payments after leaving the Armed Forces. Many veterans discover that their disability benefits can be reduced or withheld by the federal government until the full amount of their separation payment is recouped. Many veterans are not fully aware of these requirements when leaving the military until it is too late, causing veterans’ serious financial hardship and stress.
- Port Chicago 50: Committee amendment offered by Rep. Peters (CA52) to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909)
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment requires the Secretary of the Navy to study and report to Congress the Navy’s actions leading up to the mutiny charges against the Port Chicago 50.
Background: Following Rep. George Miller’s 1992 NDAA amendment requesting the Navy to review the cases of the 50 sailors, the Navy issued a report suggesting that the trial court proceedings that led to the mutiny convictions were fair and appropriate. Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment requests the Navy consider the racial inequities that led to the criminal charges of mutiny that led to the trial.
AMENDMENTS THAT PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
- Crude-by-Rail Safety Study: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.868 to H.R. 8, offered with Reps. Lowey and Garamendi) to the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment requires the Department of Energy to study the maximum level of volatility that is consistent with the safest practicable shipment of crude oil.
Background: In 2015, USDOT issued a final rule for the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The rule intends to make significant and extensive changes to improve accident prevention, mitigation, and emergency response; however, the rule does not address whether energy producers need to remove the volatile gases from the oil when it is extracted from the ground, and did not mandate additional studies to better understand the hazards of transporting crude by rail and to ensure that the new rule is improving safety.
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Interoperability: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.1001 to H.R. 5046, offered with Rep. Carter) to the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act.
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment clarifies that grants under the bill can be used for multi-state interoperable prescription drug monitoring programs.
Background: While doctors and pharmacies work hard to prevent anyone from filling unneeded prescription drug orders, it is more difficult to address “doctor shopping” by individuals who visit multiple doctors and pharmacists in an attempt to obtain more opioids. Sometimes individuals who are addicted will cross state lines to avoid their state’s prescription drug monitoring systems. Unfortunately, many state programs are not compatible with neighboring states, and do not coordinate or share information effectively.
- Rosie the Riveter, Importance of Women during WWII: Floor amendment (H.Amdt.1044 to H.R. 4909, considered en bloc) to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909/S.2943) Submitted with Reps. Fitzpatrick (lead), Speier, and Huffman to Rules Committee.
Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment recognizes the role played by the 16 million women known as ‘Rosie the Riveters’ during World War II.
Background: Given the local and historic significance of Rosie the Riveter, Congressman DeSaulnier joined a bipartisan effort led by Mr. Fitzpatrick (PA-08) to honor the millions of women who helped advance the war effort.
EFFORTS SPEARHEADED BY CONGRESSMAN DESAULNIER
Congressman DeSaulnier spearheaded the efforts below during the 114th Congress, and continues to look for opportunities to include them in legislative efforts in this Congress.
- Doctor-Patient Communication Study
Congressman DeSaulnier led an effort to require the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to perform a study of physician-patient communication and report back recommendations on how to improve communication. As a cancer survivor, Congressman DeSaulnier knowns firsthand the importance of streamlining and improving doctor-patient interactions.
- DARPA Smart Gun Allowable Use of Funds
Congressman DeSaulnier authored legislation to clarify that smart gun research and development is an allowable use of DARPA funds. This amendment would provide explicit authority to examine smart gun technology for potential benefit to the U.S. military.
- ARPA-E Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Congressman DeSaulnier authored an amendment to remove “reductions of energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases,” from goals of ARPA-E. This amendment would maintain the integrity of the ARPA-E mission by striking the language removing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as one of ARPA-E’s goals. Congressman DeSaulnier recognizes that it makes no sense to forbid an energy research agency from developing new environmentally friendly technology that can save consumers money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
- Transportation Project Prioritization
Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment which directs states and metropolitan planning organizations to develop publicly available criteria to prioritize transportation projects.
- Contractor Disclosure
Congressman DeSaulnier has a proven track record of fighting to improve transparency in contractor disclosure processes in the California State Legislature. Building upon those efforts on the federal level, Congressman DeSaulnier drafted an amendment to better understand the relationship of political donations by contractors to the awarding of contracts. This amendment would direct USDOT to not award a contract unless the contractor agrees to disclose its political spending.
- Megaprojects Oversight
Congressman DeSaulnier authored the Transportation Megaprojects Accountability and Oversight Act (H.R. 4228) to improve accountablity and oversight of megaprojects by establishing an independent peer review group to assess the quality assurance, cost containment, and risk management of federal highway and transportation projects. Additionally, he offered an amendment to establish a peer review group and a comprehensive risk management plan to prevent cost overruns and project delays for transportation megaprojects exceeding $2.5 billion.
- VW Defeat Devices
After the VW defeat device scandal broke, Congressman DeSaulnier discovered that there is no mechanism for the fraudulent actors involved to be charged criminally for their actions. Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment to clarify that individuals who knowingly bypass, defeat, or render inoperative air pollution control parts or components in motor vehicles may be liable for criminal penalties.
- Offshore Whistleblower Protections Study
Congressman DeSaulnier along with Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) and former Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24) offered the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (H.R. 2824), which would extend whistleblower protections to employees working on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) performing oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, or oil spill cleanup. Currently, there are no federal protections for OCS workers. Additionally, Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment that requires the Department of Labor to study the effectiveness of extending whistleblower protections to oil and gas industry workers on the Outer Continental Shelf.
- Offshore Whistleblower Protection Implementation
Based on his efforts to provide greater protections to employees, Congressman DeSaulnier also submitted an amendment which would extend whistleblower protections to certain workers in the offshore oil and gas industry to promote safe working environments and energy security.
- Biomass Definition Clarification
Congressman DeSaulnier submitted an amendment to clarify the definition of biomass as renewable energy to include the eligibility of municipally derived biosolids for use in the production of renewal energy.
- Federal Contractor Contribution Disclosure Rider Elimination
To improve transparency in contractor disclosure process, Congressman DeSaulnier offered an amendment to strike a policy rider in the bill (Section 735) that prevents federal contractors from having to disclose their political spending. The amendment was withdrawn.
- Listing Water Hyacinth as an Invasive Species
Congressman DeSaulnier joined Congressman Jerry McNerney and other California Members in offering an amendment to the Western Water and American Food Security Act to add water hyacinth to the list of invasive species to be considered for the pilot project established under the bill.
- Safe Drinking Water Impacts
Congressman DeSaulnier joined Congressman Ami Bera and other Delta Members to offer an amendment to delay the implementation of the Western Water and American Food Security Act until it is determined that it will not have a negative impact on the quantity, quality, and safety of drinking water in the California Delta region.
- Social Benefit Corporation Study
Congressman Desaulnier offered an amendment that would direct the Security and Exchange Commission to study and report to Congress the prevalence of employee ownership plans within companies that include a flexible or social benefit component in their articles of incorporation, as allowed under relevant state laws.
- Block State Preemption of Menu Labeling Requirements
During his time in the California State Legislature, Congressman DeSaulnier successfully enacted the first-in-the-nation menu labeling standards. Bringing that knowledge to Congress, DeSaulnier offered an amendment that would maintain current state's rights to enact menu labeling laws.