News for California’s 5th District
The Month of March ended on a high note as the House put partisanship aside and passed bipartisan legislation to permanently fix the way doctors are reimbursed for the Medicare services they provide our seniors. While the deal isn’t perfect, a permanent fix is far better than continuing to govern from cliff to cliff as we have done with this issue 17 times over 14 years. I am 100 percent committed to ensuring the long-term viability of Medicare and this bill will help make sure Medicare patients continue have access to high-quality, affordable health care.
It is my hope that this kind of constructive, bipartisan compromise can continue in the months to come.
Gun Violence Prevention
I am pleased to report that earlier this month I introduced H.R. 1217, the bipartisan King-Thompson background check legislation, officially known as the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015.
The bill, co-authored by Representative Pete King (R-NY) and myself, expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers. While some states like California already require background checks for all commercial gun sales, many other states do not. That means that prohibited purchasers can drive to one state, buy guns at a gun show, and then drive back into California. This loophole leaves us all less safe.
Background checks protect the Second Amendment and help keep spouses, kids and communities safe by helping prevent dangerous people from getting guns. They are the first line of defense in our efforts to keep guns from criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill, and Congress should fortify that first line of defense by passing our bipartisan bill to close the system’s loopholes.
Women’s History Month
Earlier in the month, I introduced a bi-partisan resolution in the House of Representatives honoring March as Women’s History Month. In recognition of the extraordinary women across our district with whom it is my pleasure to work, I honored five women from our district as Women of the Year. The honorees were: long-time public servant Pamela Phillips (Lake County), Alzheimer’s awareness advocate Cynthia Guzman (Napa County), community and youth activist Karen Taylor (Solano County), volunteer and disability advocate Maureen Toms (Contra Costa County), and Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron (Sonoma County).
Events and News around the District
In Vallejo, we officially renamed the Springstowne Post Office in honor of Philmore Graham. Philmore Graham was a veteran, a patriot, a mentor and a leader. He was the first, and to this day remains the only, African American to hold the position of supervisor at Mare Island’s Department of Nuclear Energy. In 1966, Graham founded the Continentals of Omega Boys and Girls Club in Vallejo. What began as six young boys meeting in Graham’s garage has become a thriving organization that today enriches the lives of approximately 300 boys and girls each year. The club has worked with thousands of young people since its inception. Permanently naming our post office after him is a fitting tribute to his memory.
Our district also received several important federal grants this month to fund education and conservation activities. The Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County and Napa County’s Child Start received nearly $6.5 million to help make sure our kids have a foundation for success that’s rooted in education and strong, healthy development.
We were also awarded $4.3 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants to restore river habitat and improve water quality in Napa and Sonoma Counties.
And, I proud to announced that we have secured the final $1.8 million needed to complete the Napa Flood Project. The Napa Flood Project is one of the fundamental pillars of job creation and economic development in our community. Now, after decades of dedication and hard work we have the money we need to finish the job. This project will improve water quality, provide flood protection to homes and businesses, and help create and support thousands of jobs.
This Month in Congress
I voted against the Republican-proposed budget that was passed on March 25. This budget would crush hard working American families, making it harder for them to buy homes, send their children to college, and save for retirement. Even if this budget passes the Senate, it will be vetoed by President Obama. Instead of big tax cuts for the wealthiest, we need a budget that invests in hard working families. The budget I voted for does just that.
Earlier in the month, House Democrats were finally able to put a long-term Homeland Security funding bill on the floor for a vote that didn't contain the Majority's extreme, anti-immigration policy riders. The House Majority attempted to hold Homeland Security hostage in an attempt to derail the president’s executive actions on immigration. Fortunately, at the last minute Democrats were able to pass a clean funding bill and kept the Department of Homeland Security open so that it could continue doing its work to keep American families safe.
Also, the Department of Defense officially announced that they will be implementing my legislation requiring every American flag purchased by DOD to be 100 percent Made in the USA. Our men and women in uniform should never fight under an American flag made overseas
I am continuing to push for passage of my legislation to designate the 360,100 acre Berryessa Snow Mountain region as a National Monument. Protecting this area would boost tourism, grow the local economy, improve recreation opportunities and protect important species. If the House Majority refuses to allow a vote on this bill, I will continue working with President Obama to protect the region through executive action.
Representative Anna Eshoo and I also reintroduced the Fair Access to Health Care Act to expand the eligibility for premium tax credits for people living in high-cost areas who purchase health insurance through the federal and state exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By taking cost of living into account when setting thresholds for tax credits we can make sure families have access affordable health insurance no matter where they live.
50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
Finally, my wife Janet and I joined many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in visiting Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day when protesters put their own wellbeing at risk to bravely march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge so that all people could have equal access to the ballot box. Their courage sparked a national movement that led to President LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act into law. It was an honor to be present for such an important anniversary.
It was truly one of the most moving trips I have taken while in Congress.
As we move forward in Congress, I will stand firm for our district’s principles, fight for hard working American families, and continue working across the aisle to on important bipartisan legislation.
Member of Congress