Mark Calls for a New, Southern Crossing of San Francisco Bay with Senator Feinstein
Dear Contra Costa Residents:
As the House of Representatives begins its legislative work this week, we want to provide you with a snapshot of recent news and issues before Congress over the past week.
RECENT KEY VOTES
Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 1
Last Monday night, House Republicans rushed Members of Congress back to Washington to begin the formal process of negotiating the differences between the House and Senate tax plans. Both bills provide massive tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, undermine State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions, and increase taxes on the middle class. Either bill would be a step backwards for our country, which is why I voted to oppose this effort.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38)
The concealed carry permitting process for handguns varies from state to state, with California being one of the states with the strictest requirements and 12 states having no requirements at all. Allowing reciprocity of these permits requires every state to put the safety of their citizens at risk and instead enforce the laws from another state. I strongly opposed this bill, which is bad for California and bad for the country.
Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.J.Res. 123)
Despite controlling the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, Republicans have let funding for the government almost expire twice this year rather than working toward a responsible budget compromise that all parties could support. First, in September Republicans nearly let the government shut down and were forced to pass a two-month patch for the budget. Again unable to govern efficiently or work toward a compromise as the new December 8th deadline approached, Republicans passed a two-week funding measure that only funds the government through next Friday, December 22nd. I voted against the two-week patch. Holding the government hostage and threatening shutdowns is an irresponsible way to govern.
WORKING TO EASE CONGESTION AND SHORTEN COMMUTE TIMES
Joint Effort with Senator Feinstein on a new, southern crossing for San Francisco Bay
Senator Dianne Feinstein and I called on Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director, Steve Heminger, to urge action on a new southern bridge crossing connecting the east and west sides of San Francisco Bay. Traffic on freeways in the Bay Area has increased by 80 percent since 2010, according to MTC's own analysis. Bay Area residents are fed up with traffic congestion, which has become much worse in the last few years. We need to do something to address this problem, and the Senator and I are encouraging MTC to begin discussion of a new southern crossing. This project should be innovative and accommodate multi-modal forms of transportation including BART or rail, cars, bike lanes, and autonomous vehicles. A new southern crossing would have a real, significant impact on people's daily lives and commutes.
Below is a summary of some of the coverage the issue received:
- East Bay Times: Borenstein: Feinstein calls for new bridge across the bay
- CBS SF Bay Area: As Traffic Worsens, Feinstein Seeks New Bridge Across Bay
- San Francisco Chronicle: Feinstein: Traffic is terrible. Build a new bay bridge
MARK AROUND TOWN
We attended the Pearl Harbor Annual Beacon Lighting Ceremony at Mt. Diablo in honor of the 2,403 American men and women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. During World War II, the beacon atop Mt. Diablo went dark to make an air attack on California more difficult, and was not lit again until 1964 by Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz. Each year the beacon is lit to continue this tradition in memory of the victims of Pearl Harbor.
OPINIONS FROM THE DISTRICT
Below are some of the top issues you shared with me over the past two weeks:
- 708 constituents expressed their strong support for maintaining national monuments and opposed the President's move to shrink Bear Ears and Grand Stairs-Escalante by more than 1.1 million acres and more than 800,000 acres, respectively.
- 496 constituents worried that the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) recent effort to undermine net neutrality would have a negative impact on the freedom and reliability of the internet.
LEGISLATION MARK RECENTLY SUPPORTED
CHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 4541)
For 9 weeks, Republicans have failed to pass legislation to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which puts nearly 30,000 California women and children at risk of losing their health insurance. This bill would reauthorize and fully fund the CHIP program to ensure that children and pregnant women have the care they need to live healthy lives.
Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 173)
The tax on employer-sponsored health care plans, also known as the "Cadillac Tax," charges a 40 percent tax on employer plans that exceed a premium threshold each year. This tax unfairly penalizes employees who get their insurance through their employer, and discourages employers from providing good health care to their employees.
LETTERS MARK RECENTLY SENT
Letter to House and Senate Leadership opposing taxes on graduate school tuition waivers
Students studying for their doctoral degrees and performing research at American universities are often given waivers that cover the cost of their tuition. The Republican tax plan would tax these tuition waivers as income, a 400% tax increase that students would have to pay out of their already-meager stipends. If passed, this tax provision would make graduate study unattainable for non-wealthy students. I joined a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to ensure tuition assistance waivers are preserved in the final tax bill.
Letter to the Department of Education opposing the weakening of civil rights investigations in schools
According to recent reports, Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education are considering limiting the Office for Civil Rights' ability to effectively investigate and address civil rights violations in schools. The changes under consideration would make it more difficult to identify a pattern of discriminatory practices within a school or classroom. I was proud to join my colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary DeVos urging her to reject these harmful changes and to reaffirm the Department's commitment to upholding civil rights in all of our schools.
Letter calling on the Administration to address sexual abuse in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities
A recent investigation found that approximately 60,000 U.S. inmates faced sexual abuse each year. Complaints of physical and sexual abuse in detention centers remain grossly under-investigated and under-reported. I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and ICE calling on them to appoint special committees to investigate complaints of sexual abuse in detention facilities, make data on sexual abuse in DHS facilities public, and require ICE to maintain records of these complaints.
Letter opposing attempts to weaken Endangered Species Act
The Endangered Species Act is a bedrock conservation law that has helped many species recover from the brink of extinction, including the bald eagle, the brown pelican, and the humpback whale. However, draft funding legislation contains several provisions that undermine the goals of the Endangered Species Act, including provisions that would prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from taking any steps to list the sage-grouse; defund recovery measures for gray wolves through the entire continental United States; and void a federal rule conserving bears and wolves on national preserves in Alaska. I joined several of my colleagues in Congress urging that these harmful provisions be taken out of the final bill.
MARK'S RECENT STATEMENTS
After the House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38), which would require states like California to allow people from other states to freely carry a concealed weapon in public without a permit, Mark said:
"Less than a month since one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history, Republicans passed legislation that will weaken gun laws and make it easier for people to bring guns across state lines and carry them in public. Twelve states allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit. Under this bill, California is required to honor these policies and allow anyone claiming to be from those states to carry firearms freely in our state. This bill will undermine all of the hard work we have done to make our state safer from gun violence, and is an affront to the victims of gun violence and their families," said Congressman DeSaulnier.
MARK IN THE NEWS
San Francisco Chronicle: Xavier Becerra opens review into abuse claims by immigrants at Richmond jail
Following Mark's request for a third-party investigation of the West County Detention Facility, Attorney General Becerra said he is committed to a vigorous, independent review of the facility. Mark recognizes that this review is good for accountability, for the public, for the detainees, and for the Sheriff's office--the Attorney General has his full support. The San Francisco Chronicle covered this development. Read the full story here.