We in the Valley and across our great country all want the same things: a stronger economy, opportunities for ourselves and our children, and a healthy and safe life. Last week in Washington both chambers of Congress considered legislation that would have impacts on the San Joaquin Valley and the country. I wanted to take the this opportunity to share how I have been fighting to build a stronger, safer, and healthier Valley in order to improve the lives of those I have the honor of representing.
Reforming our Nation’s Health Care System
Last week the Senate delayed the vote on its healthcare bill, which is only marginally different than the House’s healthcare bill that I strongly opposed and voted against in May. If either piece of legislation becomes law, millions of Americans, including many of our friends and neighbors in the San Joaquin Valley, will lose healthcare coverage and see their insurance costs rise. What’s more, both chambers’ bills would dramatically harm our veterans and the most vulnerable among us, including our sick, our children, and our elderly. These bills are bad for the San Joaquin Valley and the American people.
The American people have demanded solutions to improve their health care outcomes from Congress. While not perfect, the Affordable Care Act has done good things for the San Joaquin Valley, and in my district alone, the percentage of uninsured individuals has gone from 22% to 11%, which means 140,000 people in the California 16th district and over half a million people in our Valley now have coverage that did not have access to care six years ago. The law has also been successful in expanding care in rural areas and providing services for the young and elderly alike, including at Livingston Community Health, Camarena Health, and Golden Valley Health Centers.
Over the last 6 months, as new proposals have been debated in Congress, I have asked the experts in hospitals, clinics, and various practices in my district if the two proposed bills would live up to President Trump’s stated goals – cost effective coverage, coverage for everyone, and better overall care. The health care experts have all weighed in and consistently told me that these proposals will not accomplish these goals. We all have the same objective– access to quality and affordable healthcare coverage for our constituents. As the debate over health care reform continues, I remain ready to work with my colleagues on bipartisan solutions that will help improve the health care system all Americans.
While the Senate continues to debate reforms to our nation’s health care system, I am working in the House to raise awareness about health issues that impact all Americans. Last week I had the opportunity to speak on the House floor to highlight the growing crisis surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. With more than 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s and no proven treatment, Alzheimer’s has become the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. That number is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050, so it is critical now more than ever to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institute of Health, as some of my colleagues and I called for back in April. This issue is immensely personal to me, as many in my family have suffered from this disease, including my mother, Lena Costa. To view my speech on the House floor, please click on the link below.
Immigration Votes in the House of Representatives
Last week the House voted on two bills that would do very little to reform our broken immigration system: Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. I voted against both bills because they will do nothing to help up fix out broken immigration system – which requires comprehensive immigration reform – while simultaneously making it harder for our judicial system and law enforcement to provide us with justice, order, and safety. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Actreduces federal funding from law enforcement and public safety programs in the cities, states, and localities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. By reducing funding for law enforcement and programs such as the Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program, the COPS Anti-heroin Task Force, the Port Security Grant Program, and the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act will make it harder for local law enforcement to keep our community safe. Kate’s Law increases criminal penalties surrounding immigrants reentering the country, does not differentiate between nonviolent misdemeanors and more serious offenses, and does not distinguish between reason for reentering the country, and would be extremely burdensome on our judicial system.
The American people need an overarching, commonsense solution that both bolsters the enforcement of laws and provides a practical solution for the nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. In pursuit of that goal, I joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez in his work on the Agricultural Worker Program Act, and I sent him a letter outlining areas where I think the bill can be improved. We in the San Joaquin Valley know how critical reforming our immigration system is to our economy and the food security of our nation, I will continue to advocate for a serious, bipartisan solution to this very real problem.
Fighting for Comprehensive Tax Reform
Nearly all Americans can agree that the current tax code is agonizingly complex and limits incentives for businesses and individuals to invest in our economy. It is clear that any effort at tax reform must make the tax code simpler, fairer, and must be done without increasing our long-term debt. Tax reform is a key element in building a stronger economy in our Valley so we can provide relief for families and help businesses grow. Over the last few weeks, I have met with Secretary Treasury Steve Mnuchin on three occasions to discuss how to best reform the tax code so that it works for all Americans.
President Trump has made clear that tax reform is a priority for his administration, and I hope to work constructively with my colleagues in Congress on a bipartisan basis to deliver families and businesses the reform they have long been waiting for. To that end, I joined several of my colleagues in writing a letter to Secretary Mnuchin to express my concern over his plan to eliminate the federal deduction for taxpayers who itemize the state and local taxes they have paid over the previous year. Elimination of this deduction would unfairly penalize residents in high-tax states like California and effectively act as a tax increase. I urge Secretary Mnuchin to reconsider this policy and instead work towards bipartisan comprehensive tax reform that will simplify the tax code to make it fair for every American and to help stimulate economic growth.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any federal issues of your concern. To stay up-to-date on the work I am doing in Congress, please visit my website at costa.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter here. You can also follow my work and events in our Valley on my Facebook pageand twitter account.
Member of Congress