Weekly Newsletter 8.16.2019
The August district work period is in full swing, and I’ve really enjoyed being home and having so many great conversations with community leaders, local groups, and constituents. Here are some highlights from the past two weeks:
Honoring Hmong veterans
I introduced H.R. 4204 - the Special Guerrilla Unit (SGU) Service Recognition Expansion Act, to expand eligibility for interment in national cemeteries to all Hmong and Lao citizens who fought in support of the United States during the Vietnam War. It's important we continue to push to ensure that those who have sacrificed in service of this great country are honored appropriately. This important step builds on the work I spearheaded last year when Congress passed legislation to recognize some SGU burial rights for the first time in H.R.1625 - the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
Fighting for victims
Another piece of legislation I introduced is H.R. 4203 - Jane's Law, which would make it a crime for individuals to cross state line after divorce or separation to avoid paying court-ordered distributions. Such individuals should not be allowed to skirt our judicial system. As Co-Chair of the Victims' Rights Caucus, I aim to finally put an end to this unjust practice.
Addressing rising prescription drug costs
Diabetes affects about 22% of my constituents. With that in mind, I released the Committee on House Oversight and Reform’s report, “Prices of Diabetes Drugs for Seniors and the Uninsured in the United States and Abroad,” which shows the high cost of insulin in CA-16. In the past 20 years, drug manufacturers have drastically raised the price of insulin, making it harder for seniors and others to afford their medication and take it as directed. I invited diabetes patients, doctors and advocates to a townhall to discuss the impacts of the disease and to share the work I've done in Washington to lower drug costs, including co-sponsoring and voting for H.R.987 - the Strengthening Healthcare and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. I will continue to fight to ensure that people throughout the Valley and across the country have access to quality and affordable healthcare.
Investing in a sustainable future
A new bill I co-sponsored, H.R.2616 - the Clean Corridors Act of 2019, would establish grant funding through the Department of Transportation to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along our national highway system. It’s important that we invest in the infrastructure of the future.
Ensuring adequate veteran healthcare
There are many changes happening at the VA Central California Health Care System (VACCHCS) Fresno. This week I met with the current Director Chuck Benninger, the new Chief of Staff, Dr. Cynthia Wallace and Edward Working, Supervisory Health System Specialist along with a few of their staff members. During my visit, we discussed how we can continue to work together to ensure the very best care on behalf of veterans. I also toured the Cardiac Catheterization (CATH Lab). It was good to learn the CATH Lab is back open and serving our veterans. I will continue to work with VA leadership at VACCHCS to ensure our veterans and the many invaluable employees at the hospital are well taken care of during the current transitions at the hospital.
Supporting fair immigration policy
Working with my colleagues on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), I sent three letters to the Leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee. While the House and Senate debate what provisions to include in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I want to ensure that key immigration provisions remain intact.
As a member of the CHC, I'm committed to implementing sound immigration policies that don't exacerbate the current crisis or needlessly hurt these immigrants. Here are the key points of the letters and their associated amendments:
- Prevent funds from being used to construct a physical barrier at the southern border.
- Protect immigrant service members by requiring notification of honorable discharge of non-U.S. citizens and preventing deportation of DACA recipients serving in the armed forces.
- Ensure that child migrants have access to basic humanitarian living standards.
Talking healthcare in Madera
Healthcare is a top priority. Constituents frequently express concerns about access and costs. I met with the CEO of Madera Community Hospital and took a tour of the facility to hear about issues important to local providers, including physician and nursing including physician and nursing shortages, mental health services and homelessness. The doctors and staff at MCH work hard every day to care for their patients and I'm proud to have this top notch hospital in my district!
Valley lands big dollars
The Department of Transportation announced a string of grants that will bring federal infrastructure dollars into the district. Regents of the University of California will receive $700,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to fund research of infrastructure technologies that could transform transportation in the United States. As our roads become more congested, it is crucial that we innovate new ways to manage traffic and ensure the safety of our citizens.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration awarded $5,575,186 to the California Department of Conservation to ensure the safety of underground natural gas storage facilities, and $3,839,987 to the California Office of the State Fire Marshal to continue pipeline safety programs.
I was honored to welcome nearly 1000 of our nation's newest citizens as they took the Oath of Citizenship at a Naturalization Ceremony in downtown Fresno. I am proud of the hard work these individuals accomplished to complete this process of citizenship. Immigrants have helped build this country and it's heartwarming and inspiring to see so many who want to call the United States their home. Let us never forget we are a nation of immigrants, past and present.
Upcoming Events Across the District:
Madera District Fair 2019
The Madera Fair kicks off! Featuring plenty of food, performances, and art, this year the Madera Fair hosts free festival concerts. Click here to learn more.
When: Thu, September 5-8, 2019 (5PM-7:30PM)
Where: 1850 West Cleveland Ave. Madera, CA 93637
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:
Playhouse Merced Presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” sponsored by St. Paul School.
When: Fri, September 6-22, 2019
California Food Expo:
The California food Expo is the only trade show designed exclusively for California food and beverage companies to connect with buyers from around the world, engage with industry peers and highlight the innovation and diversity that can only be found in California. Click here to learn more.
When: Sun, September 8-10, 2019
Where: Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center – 848 M. Street, Fresno, California 93721
Fresno Job Fair:
The Fresno Job Fair and Career Fair allows job hunters to meet with hiring managers from local, national, and Fortune 500 companies. Click here to learn more.
When: Thurs, September 12, 2019
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fresno Convention Center – 2233 Ventura St., Fresno, CA
Dairy Margin Coverage Program:
The deadline to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program is fast approaching. If you believe you qualify and need more information, you can visit the USDA website.
Deadline: September 20, 2019
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