As always, I have appreciated hearing your thoughts and concerns.
In case you missed my earlier message - I am holding a Town Hall meeting on June 19 from 6:00pm - 7:30pm at SDSU's Montezuma Hall. No RSVP needed. More information can be found here:
In the meantime, I hope you'll take a moment to read this congressional update.
Announcing East County Office Hours:
Where: El Cajon Branch Library, 201 E. Douglas El Cajon, CA 92020
When: Second Monday of the month - June 12, 2017 from 2:00pm to 8:00pm
Why: Come by if you are experiencing issues with a federal agency or have a comment to share with a member of my staff. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend in person due to the congressional voting schedule.
If you have any questions please call my San Diego district office: (619) 280-5353
A stop-gap spending bill to fund the federal government through September passed with my support. However, it is not a proper federal budget, and I will continue pushing back against ongoing Trump Administration and Republican Leadership efforts to cut critical domestic programs.
Federal budget priorities are a reflection of our national values, and the way we choose to enhance or cut programs hurts or helps generations to come. Trump's proposal to slash anti-poverty and Medicaid funding, end loan forgiveness for public servants, and reduce nutrition assistance programs is short-sighted. Cuts such as these would be a disaster and spell darker times ahead. Crime and poverty are inextricably linked, lack of access to preventative health care increases health care costs, and disincentivizing the best and brightest to pursue public service is a disservice to us all.
As we're thinking of spending more money on national defense at the expense of domestic programs - what about the issues that will develop within the borders of our own country if we neglect the most vulnerable among us and further erode local, state and federal governance? Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31 percent? And cutting the State Department by nearly 30 percent, as President Trump's budget would do - what will those cuts get us? A world that is not fit for our grandchildren to inherit - that's what.
The Trump budget is not a reflection of the values I was elected to represent in Congress, and I will continue to make that loud and clear.
Here is my recent Op/Ed piece that speaks to my values particularly relating to education:
Health Care Bill:
A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states that within ten years 23 million more people will be without health insurance if President Trump's American Health Care Act (AHCA) is implemented. I will continue fighting this legislation. It is not in the best interest of our country or economy.
Appointment of Special Counsel:
I believe the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election is a step in the right direction. However, I still believe we need an independent commission. I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 356, legislation to establish a National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election and have signed a discharge petition to force a vote in the House.
Flexibility for Military Families: I joined Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing the bipartisan Military Family Stability Act. The measure would allow military families to either move early or remain at their current duty station for up to six months when their spouse begins a new assignment.
For many military families, the cost of maintaining two residences to allow a spouse or child to finish a school year or complete a job is simply unfeasible. This bill would provide much-needed flexibility for families facing an ill-timed move, at no cost to the Department of Defense.
Helping Teachers: I also recently introduced the Teacher Health and Wellness Act, legislation to provide support for teachers by creating a pilot study at the National Institutes of Health aimed at reducing teacher stress, increasing teacher health and ultimately boosting student achievement.
Stopping Child Exploitation: My legislation to combat human trafficking, the Empowering Educators to Prevent Trafficking Act (H.R. 2268), would help local school districts train school staff to detect the signs that children are falling victim to sex trafficking.
The legislation would authorize federal grants to help school districts establish a trafficking prevention program if one doesn’t already exist, expand an existing program, and receive continued support for their efforts to train school staff.
Teachers and other school employees are particularly well positioned to recognize and respond to signs of trafficking in their students, and with proper training, they can be an important line of defense in the fight against this damaging form of human exploitation.
Each year, there are an estimated eight to eleven thousand victims of sex trafficking in San Diego County. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 14 to 15 years old. When I first introduced this bill, I held a press conference with a group of local San Diego educators highlighting the need for more intervention efforts to stop trafficking in our schools and communities.
NIH Round Table:
My office facilitated a round table discussion with medical research stakeholders to discuss the importance of robust funding of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This funding is critical to advancements in disease research as well as our local economy.
Recently, I led a bipartisan group of House members in an effort to increase the budget for the NIH. My letter to House appropriators urges $36 billion for medical research and was signed by 206 members of the House. President Trump's budget would cut NIH funding by almost 20 percent.
Mother's Day in Afghanistan
Over Mothers Day, I led a bipartisan women’s congressional delegation to Afghanistan and Iraq. We met with military and government officials, Afghan women leaders and Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani.
Thanks to Franklin Elementary students for making these Mother's Day cards for our service members who are away from their own families while serving our country.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual Congressional Luncheon, and I was honored to participate. It was an opportunity for the business community to hear from San Diego's congressional delegation about topics affecting the local economy as well as federal policy priorities. Topics of discussion included North Korea, the border wall, immigration and deportations, healthcare reform, National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and how Congress and the San Diego delegation can better find common ground.
Congressional Art Competition
On April 24 I hosted the 2017 Congressional Art Competition at St. Paul’s Plaza in east Chula Vista. The winner was Heyju Cho of Mater Dei High School. Her piece is called "True leader" and it will hang in the Capitol Complex for a year starting this June. I enjoyed meeting the student artists, competition judges, and appreciate St. Paul’s Senior Homes and Services CEO and art competition ceremony emcee Cheryl Wilson for her help.