Mark Hosts First Meeting of Bipartisan Cancer Survivors Group

December 18, 2017
DeSaulnier Digest

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.


Privacy Notification Technical Clarification Act (H.R. 2396)

Currently, financial institutions are required to share with their customers their policies regarding the collection and disclosure of customers’ personal information once a year. H.R. 2396 would exempt many financial institutions from that annual disclosure requirement, thus putting customers’ personally identifiable information at risk and eligible to be sold to the highest bidder. I opposed this bill because customers deserve to control where their information is going.

Bills to undermine the Iran Nuclear Agreement (H.R. 1638 and H.R. 4324)

Last week, the House voted on 2 bills that would make it more difficult for the United States to uphold our end of the Iran Nuclear Agreement. One bill (H.R. 1638) requires the Treasury Department to divert funding away from verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal and instead use those resources to monitor all assets directly and indirectly controlled by 80 individual Iranians who may not be covered by current sanctions. The second (H.R. 4324) decreases the United States’ ability to sell commercial aircraft to Iran, which was promised to them under the agreement. I voted against these bills, which were thinly-veiled attempts at undermining the Iran Nuclear Agreement.


Mark introduces bill to allow for innovation in electric trucks

I recently introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles in our trucking industry and spur innovation. At this stage of development, truck batteries are heavier than truck engines. To address this difference, our bill (H.R. 4421) would allow electric trucks to exceed federal weight limits by up to 2,000 pounds. Natural gas trucks are currently provided the same weight increase for similar reasons. California is already leading the country and the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and I am committed to identifying ways the federal government can support this effort. I am also thankful to my two Republican colleagues on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), Representatives Rodney Davis and Lloyd Smucker, as well as the T&I Ranking Member Peter DeFazio for joining me in sponsoring this important bill. Read more about the bill here.


First meeting of the bipartisan Cancer Survivors Caucus

This week, my colleague and co-chair Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and I hosted the first meeting of the bipartisan Cancer Survivors Caucus, featuring President of the Biden Cancer Initiative and former Executive Director of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, Gregory Simon. Several Members of Congress joined us for a discussion of how we can work together to improve cancer care by making it more patient-centric.

Mark speaks at Committee on Education and the Workforce as they consider the Higher Education Act reauthorization

I joined my colleagues on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for a 15-hour marathon hearing on the highly-partisan Republican Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, which will make higher education less accessible and affordable for lower- and middle-income families while removing safeguards that protect students from predatory for-profit colleges and unscrupulous lenders. During the hearing, I offered an amendment that would increase access to education for students with disabilities and spoke in support of maintaining the highly popular and successful Perkins Loan program. Unfortunately, the Republican Majority voted down those efforts and instead pushed through this damaging legislation at midnight without a single legislative hearing or a single Democrat supporting the bill.

Mark speaks at the introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral Stop Underrides Act, to help keep drivers safe from fatal tractor trailer accidents

I joined my colleagues Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman Steve Cohen, to unveil legislation to help prevent deadly truck crashes. The bill requires that all trucks are equipped with rear and side guards to stop cars from being able to slide underneath trailers during a crash. Over 300 people are killed each year from truck underride collisions – it is time action is taken to address this problem so that no more families are torn apart by an accident that could have been prevented with commonsense safety improvements.


Hearing directly from you not only informs my work in Congress, but also is my favorite part of being your Representative. To share your opinions with me you can either email me or take our survey.

Below are some of the top issues you shared with me over the last week:

- 598 constituents wrote in expressing support for my vote to allow the Judiciary Committee to move forward with investigating whether the House of Representatives should pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

- 516 constituents contacted me in just 2 days opposing the decision the FCC made on Thursday to roll back Net Neutrality. Throughout my career, both in California and in Congress, I have been an ardent supporter of Net Neutrality, and I am disappointed in the outcome of Thursday’s vote.

- 353 constituents shared their opposition to the Republican tax plan that will raise taxes on the middle class and slash taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Despite the majority of Americans being in opposition to this plan, a vote on the final bill is expected this week.


Mental Health in Schools Act (H.R. 2913)

The Journal of Adolescent Health reports that 70% of young people with mental health challenges do not receive the help they need. This bill is modeled after a mental health program that has been successful in California and will provide grants to states to make more mental health professionals available in schools.

Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 2640)

There are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S. Unfortunately, many families that want to adopt are deemed “unqualified” because of sexual orientation or marital status. This bill will help more children find homes by prohibiting any entity that receives federal child welfare funds from discriminating against prospective adoptive or foster parents on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identification, or, marital status or on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.

Simple FAFSA Act (H.R. 4416)

Each year, as many as 2 million students do not receive the college financial assistance they qualify for because the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is too complicated. The paper FAFSA contains 110 questions and the online FAFSA can take almost an hour to complete. This bill will remove barriers for students seeking federal financial aid by reducing the complexity and length of the FAFSA and increasing support for students who need help with the application.

Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (CARE) Act (H.R. 2687)

The opioid crisis is gripping the nation in a way few other drug epidemics ever have. Every community has been affected and there are not nearly enough resources to combat the problem. That is why I agreed to sponsor H.R. 2687, which would expand federal rules to allow Medicaid dollars for treatment in facilities with up to 40 beds, ensuring that more people suffering from addiction and mental health conditions get the care they need.

Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act (H.R. 3495)

Although Congress took action in the 114th Congress by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which provides funding and resources to combat the opioid epidemic, more support is needed to continue the battle against addiction. H.R. 3495 would extend funding for CARA by $1 billion over two years to help states improve their ability to respond to this crisis.

Bears Ears National Monument Expansion Act (H.R. 4518)

I joined more than 80 of my Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring a bill, H.R. 4518, to safeguard an important piece of America’s natural and cultural heritage, Bears Ears National Monument, from attack by the current Administration. Last year, following extensive negotiations with five Native American tribes, President Obama established the new Bears Ears National Monument, conserving 1.35-million acres of wilderness and protecting over 100,000 Native American archaeological and cultural sites. Unfortunately, President Trump irresponsibly reversed this decision and will shrink the Bears Ears monument by 85 percent. H.R. 4518 restores the full size of the monument, consistent with the tribes’ request.


Letter calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to recover taxpayer funds

I joined my Northern California colleagues in writing to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, calling on him to recover $84.8 million in taxpayer funds that were misused to benefit a select few California water districts participating in the WaterFix planning process. This letter follows the Interior Inspector General’s report titled, “The Bureau of Reclamation Was Not Transparent in Its Financial Participation in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.” I am proud to join my colleagues in fighting to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability in any federal government actions related to the controversial WaterFix project.

Letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on the disproportionate impact of school discipline policies

In the 2013-2014 school year, African-American students were almost four times as likely to be suspended and nearly twice as likely to be expelled compared to white students, and students with disabilities were more than twice as likely to be subjected to exclusionary discipline measures than students without disabilities. In 2014, the Obama Administration issued guidance to schools on measures to correct this unfair discrepancy. This letter to Secretary DeVos is in response to recent reports that her department is considering withdrawing this guidance and encourages her to uphold the civil rights of all students.


Congressman DeSaulnier Joins Call for Oversight Committee to Investigate Multiple Sexual Harassment Allegations Against President Trump

“The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has the authority, and should immediately commence an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct by President Trump. We cannot allow those who have used their positions of power, prestige, or celebrity to prey on others. In the United States of America no one— not even the President—is above the law. Congress owes it to the 17 women who have been willing to speak out about their experiences, and to our country to thoroughly investigate this matter, and to do so with transparency, accountability, and due process,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.

Congressman DeSaulnier Welcomes First-Ever DoD Audit

“As President Eisenhower warned, ‘we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.’ The bloated budget at the Department of Defense has become what President Eisenhower prophesized. It is long past time for the Pentagon to undergo an audit of its assets. After reports of $125 billion of waste at the DoD and years of repeatedly authorizing bloated defense budgets—this audit is a welcome first step,” said Congressman DeSaulnier.


East Bay Times: Following SFO runway close calls, Bay Area congressman wants pilot conversations saved

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier wants to know what it will take to preserve the piece of evidence that aviation experts call critical. He has proposed new legislation to find a way to safeguard cockpit voice recorders, but finds himself up against the very federal agency that investigates such evidence and aviation incidents — the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB calls it unnecessary.

KQED: California Lawmakers Call for Better Conditions at Immigration Detention Facilities

Last month Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) called for an investigation of ICE detention conditions at the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility in Richmond. DeSaulnier toured the facility after allegations surfaced that immigrant detainees there were being confined to their cells for 23 hours a day, and in some cases prevented from using the restroom.