Overview of Budget Bill Amendments

September 21, 2017
DeSaulnier Digest

Dear Contra Costa Residents:

With so much activity in Washington--from key votes to actions taken by the Trump Administration--we want to keep you updated. In order to keep Contra Costa residents in the know, my office is launching a newsletter to provide you with a snapshot of our work on behalf of California’s 11th Congressional District. I hope this newsletter will help inform you about our work in Congress and the community.


RECENT KEY VOTES

Omnibus (H.R. 3354)

A country's budget should reflect its priorities, but unfortunately the signal we sent with the recently House passed budget bill is that the United States does not care about its education system, its workers, its infrastructure, its women, or its future. Vital programs like environmental protection were slashed in favor of  plussing up defense programs. The bill also continues the drumbeat, led by the Trump Administration, of undermining the importance of scientific research. While I was pleased that the bill included 4 amendments I authored to fund important programs to my district, it was poorly crafted and does not do justice to our nation. I voted against this bill.

Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal  Act (H.R. 3697)

In another effort to demonize immigrants and build support for the ill-advised border wall, the House voted on a bill that would make it easier to deport immigrants and strip them of their due process. This bill irresponsibly broadens the parameters of "criminal gang members," resulting in capturing many people who have no involvement in gang activity whatsoever. For example, under this bill a group of nuns who provide aid to undocumented immigrants would be classified as gang members. I strongly opposed this politically motivated bill that will do nothing to make our country safer.


MARK'S LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Congressman DeSaulnier successfully passed the following amendments on the House floor:

Cancer Communications Study: A provision that would provide the National Cancer Institute with a million dollars to study and identify ways to improve doctor-patient communication in order to help cancer patients navigate their diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and the overall care.

Affordable Housing: A $5 million funding increase for non-profit organizations working to secure affordable housing for low-income households. The effort would support the Section 4 Capacity Building program, which has been instrumental in building 41,000 affordable homes for low-income families since 2010--leveraging $20 in additional investment for every $1 spent.

Student Resource Centers: A bipartisan measure offered with Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) that would add $10 million to Statewide Family Engagement Centers to provide parents with the necessary resources to play an active role in their child’s education. Research indicates that students whose parents and families are engaged in their education often earn better grades, have higher graduations rates, and are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education. This effort could translate to greater educational achievements for our students.

Transportation Research: An amendment that would increase University Transportation Center (UTC) funding by $15 million. Academic institutions in California have used this program in the past to research and develop solutions to the problems facing our transit systems, such as reducing congestion, installing smart technologies, and improving our roads and railways. UTCs help bring together public and private investment to make our transportation system more effective and efficient.

Caveat: Unfortunately, these amendments were included in a poorly crafted budget bill, which is not expected to be considered in the Senate.


MARK AROUND TOWN

I was proud to host House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member, Peter DeFazio, in our district to visit key transportation projects and innovative companies in our region.

I joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Berkeley City Council Members to discuss the importance of food and housing insecurity among college students at a panel discussion hosted by the Associated Students of the University of California.


OPINIONS FROM THE DISTRICT

Every week hundreds of Contra Costa residents call and write me to express their concerns, share their thoughts, and ask questions regarding legislation and actions taken by the Administration. 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 past two weeks:

- 1,712 constituents expressed their opposition to President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

- 652 constituents wrote in or called my office pointing to the recent extreme weather events we have experienced in Texas, Florida, California, and Puerto Rico as evidence for the need to protect climate change research.

- 341 constituents shared their concerns over efforts by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

- 87 constituents voiced their disapproval of an effort to sneak a measure into an unrelated bill that would make it easier for criminals to purchase gun silencers without a background check.


LEGISLATION MARK RECENTLY SUPPORTED

Protect DREAMer Confidentiality Act (H.R. 3596)

This bipartisan legislation would forbid the Department of Homeland Security from providing personal details from DACA applicants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The young DREAMers who have come forward and shared not only their personal data, but that of their families with the federal government did so with assurances that their residency and personal information would be protected. To break the trust of the American people by misusing DACA data would be a risk to law and order in our country.

Resolution Calling for a Limit on the President’s Ability to Pardon or Grant a Reprieve to Himself or Members of his Family for an Offense Against the United States (H.Res. 523)

Given that President Trump and his family are under ongoing investigation over potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, this necessary resolution would limit the President’s ability to pardon himself or members of his family. President Trump has consistently demonstrated a propensity to exploit legal ambiguity for personal gain, and this resolution would uphold the safety and integrity of our government.

America’s College Promise Act (H.R. 7209)

The rising cost of tuition is making the dream of obtaining a college degree unattainable for many students and their families. This bill would provide all Americans with access to a meaningful college degree at an affordable cost by partnering with states to provide tuition-and fee-free community college to all students, and for certain low income students it would even cover four  years.

The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661)

This legislation would strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The Housing Credit is a critical tool in the fight for affordable housing in the United States, and it is vital for leveraging private investment for affordable housing. Strengthening this tax credit is a great example of how the private sector can work with the government to help all hardworking Americans find a safe, affordable, and decent place to live.


LETTERS MARK RECENTLY SENT

Letter to President Trump on Response to Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands causing significant power outages, destroying communications, and leaving thousands without adequate drinking water, food, and medical resources. Following the insufficient response to this natural disaster by the Administration, I joined my colleagues in calling on President Trump to mobilize the Department of Defense to immediately deploy additional assets in support of Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.  

Letter to the Department of Health and Human Services on Shutting Down the ACA Website

Amid ongoing efforts by the Trump Administation and Republicans in Congress to undermine the Affordable Care Act, I voiced my concern over the announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services plans to shut down HealthCare.gov every Sunday but one for a twelve-hour time window during the six-week open enrollment period. It is troubling that the Administration chose a time with historically higher traffic to shut down the website. In our letter we requested the Administration add additional days onto open enrollment to make up for the extensive amount of lost enrollment time.

Letter to Equifax CEO on Response to Data Breach

I joined my like-minded colleagues in expressing concern to Equifax about the credit reporting agency’s response to its recent data breach. Not only did hackers exploit a vulnerability on the Equifax website to secure the sensitive information of up to 143 million Americans, but Equifax also did not disclose the cyberattack until six weeks later. This delay risked exposing consumers to further criminal activity, and allowed three senior Equifax executives to sell their shares worth a combined $1.8 million. It is important to hold Equifax accountable, and demand answers for the data breach.


MARK’S RECENT STATEMENTS

Congressman DeSaulnier's Statement on Jared Kushner's Use of Private Email Account

“Following a campaign full of demands to ‘lock her up,’ the hypocrisy of these reports is jaw dropping. If it is true that Jared Kushner, among other top White House advisers, has been using a private email account, then it is apparent that this White House deliberately misled Congress. I support the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s efforts to ensure there is transparency and accountability within the Trump Administration, which is all too often shrouded in misinformation, smear tactics, and lies.” To read the full release, click here.

DeSaulier Effort to Rename Richmond Post Office Clears Next Hurdle, Passing out of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee

“Harold D. McCraw Sr. embodied the culture of the Richmond community--he was hardworking, compassionate, and dedicated. Renaming the Nevin Avenue Post Office in his honor is a fitting tribute to his service to the USPS and the community. As the Richmond community wrestles with the potential sale and closure of this post office, the committee’s approval of this bill is a welcome development. I am committed to pushing for the renaming of the building, and will fight alongside Mayor Butt and the entire community to try to save the post office,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. To read the full release, click here.


MARK IN THE NEWS

Richmond Standard: Push to save – and rename – Richmond post office continues

“As the Richmond community wrestles with the potential sale and closure of this post office, the committee’s approval of this bill is a welcome development,” DeSaulnier said. “I am committed to pushing for the renaming of the building, and will fight alongside Mayor Butt and the entire community to try to save the post office. To read the full article, click here.


KQED: $4.4 Billion Bay Area Transportation Plan - Paid for by Higher Bridge Tolls - Sent to Governor

DeSaulnier, who has vowed to fight the toll increase when it appears on the ballot, said he feels the long shopping list of projects in SB 595 is the result of what he termed a politically driven planning process on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“It’s frustrating that such an innovative area is so backward when it comes to transportation,” DeSaulnier said. To read the full article, click here.