Last month, the Supreme Court wasn't sure if it wanted to go back to the 1960s with the Shelby County v. Holder decision striking down critical parts of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), or step into the twenty-first century by striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA was a long-overdue affirmation that married same-sex couples deserve the same federal benefits as everyone else. It’s a major step towards marriage equality, and the energy at San Diego Pride on Saturday demonstrated how far we have come toward achieving this goal. However, this victory comes on the heels of a dangerous blow to voting rights. In Shelby County v. Holder, the court struck down Section 5 of the VRA, a provision that has been a vital protection against states backsliding on the progress of the civil rights movement. We must now work to restore it.
The struggles for voting rights and marriage equality are not so different. Both have been long fights, with victories hard-won. In each, we have seen freedoms and progress once thought impossible become inevitable. Yet, even as we celebrate a victory for marriage equality, the VRA ruling shows us that we cannot take these gains for granted—that maintaining these liberties requires constant vigilance and continued advocacy.
As Congress presses ahead on issues that are important to San Diego County, I would like to update you on what I have been working on in Washington and in the District. Please do not hesitate to contact me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Highlighting San Diego's Federal Workforce
- National Defense Authorization Act
- Ensuring Shoppers Honest Online Pricing (E-SHOP)
- Wildlife Services Oversight
- Speaking at Stand Down
- San Diego Pride
- Bringing the Leader to Chula Vista
- East County Chamber of Commerce
- Change of Commands in San Diego
- Joining the Asian Pacific American Caucus
- Farm Bill Votes
- Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose
- Student Loan Interest Rates
- Community Snapshots
- Defense E-News
- Interested in an Internship?
|I. Highlighting San Diego's Federal Workforce
Thousands of San Diego County residents are now being forced to take a pay cut because of furloughs resulting from sequestration. In addition to the enormous financial cost furloughs are placing on families around the county, they are also taking an enormous toll on morale across the federal workforce. To quote one of my constituents, furloughs "send a very demoralizing and humiliating message to all federal employees - one that suggests that we are not valued and that the work we do is not valued."
II. National Defense Authorization Act
Sequestration is a man-made problem that can be fixed, but doing so requires a desire by the House majority to go to conference on the budget and return the appropriations process to regular order. I recently spoke on the House floor about this issue and will continue to work with my colleagues to find a solution that keeps our federal employees on the job.
As the most senior Democrat on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I worked hard to include a number of provisions to support military personnel and their families in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation, which now awaits action in the Senate, also includes several provisions that benefit San Diego County and creates jobs in our region. The NDAA (H.R. 1960) includes:
- A 1.8% pay raise for military personnel
- Provisions designed to help small businesses compete for Department of Defense (DOD) contracts
- Impact Aid funding for military children and language to encourage the DOD to work with states to ease transition issues for children of military families in schools.
- Transition assistance for members leaving the service
- Increased funding for university grant programs
- An amendment I offered to protect $47.3 million of the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund for the specific goal of recruiting and retaining women in the Afghan National Security Forces.
I also worked across the aisle on many of the proposed changes addressing sexual assault in the military. For far too long our society has turned a blind eye to this crime, and DOD now has the opportunity to lead the way in ridding our military of these perpetrators.
Additionally, I voted in favor of national security amendments of particular concern to many constituents, including an effort to allow the Obama Administration to transfer detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay for trial in the United States or move them to other countries. I also voted for an amendment to clarify that American citizens cannot be held indefinitely by the military.
III. Ensuring Shoppers Honest Online Pricing (E-SHOP)
Did you know that if you live in a certain town or view certain websites, or if you use a Mac instead of a PC, you could be paying more when you shop online? Most consumers are unaware that Internet companies are now adopting a practice known as “dynamic pricing.” Without consumers’ knowledge, companies are using their personal information - including browser history or IP address – to alter product pricing.
IV. Wildlife Services Oversight
To help give consumers more information when making purchases online, I reintroduced legislation to require that Internet companies disclose whether they are adjusting a product or service’s price based on the consumer’s personal information. The E-SHOP Act (H.R. 2487) would require an Internet company to clearly and prominently disclose the practice of using a consumer’s personal information to alter a good’s price prior to the final purchase of a good or service.
A little-known office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services, is responsible for intervening when an animal becomes a threat or serious nuisance to humans. On many occasions, the animal is ultimately killed. However, there is a lack of transparency as to why or how. I reintroduced bipartisan legislation to require the USDA to publish clear and accessible information on such animal killings. The public and Congress need to have the opportunity for vigorous oversight to ensure that the USDA is acting appropriately and considering all less expensive and more humane alternatives to the current program. The Humane Society of the United States has endorsed this legislation.
V. Speaking at Stand Down
San Diego once again stood with our veterans at the 26th annual Stand Down, which brought critical services to our veterans in need. We must ensure that those who have sacrificed so much for our nation have the resources they need. My ultimate hope is that one day events like this will no longer be necessary because every veteran will have access to the help and care they earned and deserve.
VI. San Diego Pride
Saturday was a great day for San Diego Pride! It was especially sweet to participate in this community event this year because of the progress made on marriage equality. Let's keep marching toward equality and complete inclusion!
VII. Bringing the Leader to Chula Vista
Planned to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, my office hosted a panel discussion on mentoring, empowering, and creating opportunities for young women at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. The event was co-hosted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with Girl Scouts from Troop 5260 of Chula Vista performing the flag ceremony to begin the event.
I was proud to have representatives from the Girl Scouts of San Diego, MANA de San Diego, and the South Bay Family YMCA join me on the panel. Dr. Mary Walshok, Dean of Extension at UCSD, moderated the discussion. Many representatives from community groups attended the event, including the Jenna Druck Center, Lawyers Club of San Diego, Reality Changers, and the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women.
The Equal Pay Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to establish commensurate pay and work for women. According to the federal government, women today earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make. I believe that empowerment of girls and women strengthens our society, and that our work towards equal pay must continue.
VIII. East County Chamber of Commerce
I joined members of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce's "First Friday" breakfast held at Grossmont College (pictured here with General Manager Eric Lund and Supervisor Dianne Jacob). It was a pleasure to speak to the audience about what is happening in Washington and to hear about all the great things going on in East County.
IX. Change of Commands in San Diego
While I often think tours for San Diego's top military leaders are too short, the flow of new commanding and flag officers has the benefit of bringing new talent to our region. Last month, I attended the change of command ceremony for the new Commander, Navy Region Southwest where I was pleased to join the community in welcoming Admiral Patrick Lorge and his family to San Diego. I also recently attended the change of command ceremony for Naval Special Warfare Command and had the opportunity to meet incoming Admiral Brian Losey and speak with Admiral McRaven, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, about issues impacting the force.
X. Joining the Asian Pacific American Caucus
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of 41 Members of Congress dedicated to advocating for the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these issues as a new member of the CAPAC!
XI. Farm Bill Votes
I hoped that the Farm Bill that came before the House last month would create a five-year agricultural and food policy framework. It should have been an opportunity for bipartisan progress. However, the legislation failed to pass because significant concerns on both sides of the aisle. Contrary to past years, this year's farm bill set up a choice between those people who need our support the most and those who need it the least. While I wish I could have supported this legislation, I just couldn’t go along with this Farm Bill because so many people who are currently getting food assistance would have been hurt and made more vulnerable. I also had to vote against a scaled-down version of the Farm Bill that came to the floor last week because it completely left out food assistance from the measure.
XII. Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose
Last month, I took to the floor of the House of Representatives to speak against H.R. 1797, legislation that would restrict abortions after 20 weeks in all states. Among the many troubling provisions, this legislation would force a woman who has been raped to report the attack to law enforcement before seeking an abortion. Beyond the fact that the bill is unconstitutional, it endangers the lives of women across the country by placing a ban on abortions with the narrowest of rape and incest exceptions.
XIII. Student Loan Interest Rates
Interest rates on student loans backed by the federal government doubled on July 1. I strongly believe that we must keep rates low for students, which is why I voted against legislation that would have locked in long-term rate increases, signed a letter in support of legislation that would keep current rates at 3.4%, and held a press conference with local students to raise awareness about the increase in interest rates. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a legislative solution that protects students from having to choose between more student loan debt and higher education.
XIV. Community Snapshots
5th Annual Military Recognition Ceremony
It was an honor to attend the 5th Annual Military Recognition Ceremony aboard Naval Base San Diego. The event recognized service members, veterans, DOD civilians, DOD contractors and family members who earned or will earn a GED, certifications and college degrees but were unable to attend main on-campus commencement ceremonies. Pictured here with veterans from San Diego City College.
South County YMCA
|Lemon Grove Library Opening
Congratulations Lemon Grove on your new library! This beautiful joint-use project of the Lemon Grove School District and the county library system will be a tremendous resource for the community.
|I had fun talking with the kids at the YMCA Day Camp! It was great to see the collaboration between the Veterans Elementary School and the South Bay Family YMCA to provide day camps for our South County youth.
|San Diego Refugee Forum
San Diego is home to many refugees from countries around the world. I joined the San Diego Refugee Forum to celebrate the experiences and cultures they have to contribute to our community.
|Aaron Price Fellows Visit Washington
As the former Executive Director of the Aaron Price Fellows program, I was thrilled to welcome this year’s group of civic-minded San Diego high school students to Washington, D.C.
|South County Economic Development Council
||Regional economic development groups in San Diego are strong advocates for our communities and play an important role in attracting and retaining businesses. It was great to be able to attend the South County EDC's Annual Breakfast in Chula Vista and present certificates of appreciation to outgoing chair Ricardo Macedo and incoming chair Scott Parker.