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Dear Friends,

As we celebrated Mother’s Day this past weekend, I wanted to say thank you to all the mothers who contribute so much to our Valley. My mother always emphasized the importance of education and helping your fellow neighbor, which is something that has powerfully influenced me over the years. With this in mind, I would like to share with you some of the things I have done recently to serve our San Joaquin Valley. 

Fighting for Valley Water 

In my ongoing work to bring more safe and reliable water to our Valley, I introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives last week: H.R. 5726, the Non-Federal Reservoir Operations Improvement Act. I was joined by California Congressmen Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), and Tom McClintock (R-CA-4) on this bipartisan legislation, which aims to resolve a technicality that impedes structural and operational improvements of water reservoirs and prevents reservoirs from functioning as efficiently as possible.

This bill is a commonsense solution to a problem that will dramatically improve water storage for eastern Merced County. Merced Irrigation District has been trying to raise the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam to increase the carryover storage capacity of Lake McClure for years, but cannot move forward without updated operations guidelines and flood information. This project, when complete, will increase water supplies for eastern Merced County by 57,000 acre-feet during some years. As you know, every acre-foot of additional water is vital to sustain our agricultural production and to the future of our community. Merced Irrigation District is willing to pay to update the information and move the project forward, but the Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates Exchequer, indicated that the law prohibits it from accepting these non-federal funds to advance the project. This is absurd, and I introduced the Non-Federal Reservoir Operations Improvement Act to remove this ridiculous obstacle from hindering progress in securing more water for our Valley. I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve water supplies for the Valley, and I will fight to pass this bill and increase water supplies for Merced County.


Click here to watch Congressman Costa’s speaking on H.R. 5726, the Non-Federal Reservoir Operations Improvement Act


Leading on Trade for California Agriculture 

Last Monday, I led other California members of the House of Representatives in calling on the Administration to replace its tariffs with a longer-term, more strategic, allied approach for addressing unfair or unbalanced trade practices. We all want to secure American jobs and increase opportunity in the U.S. economy. Yet, raising far-reaching tariffs will do just the opposite. It will lead to a trade war that will only harm Valley farmers and our agricultural economy.

In our message, we expressed deep concern over the $3 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs China has imposed on more than 80 agriculture products since President Trump raised tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on March 8th. In 2017 alone, California exported approximately $28.5 billion in products to China. We made clear that the tariffs “will not effectively advance our shared goal of changing China’s harmful practices and ultimately will impact both rural and urban businesses in California and across the nation.”

For our entire message to the Administration, click here.

I have urged the Administration to rethink its approach since early March, when the Administration’s plans to raise steel and aluminum tariffs became public.California farmers and ranchers earned roughly 44% of their total revenue from international trade in 2016. California agriculture will likely feel the most intense and direct pain from these tariffs, but this pain will radiate across the country. Manufacturers, processors, merchants, and farmers will face negative impacts to their businesses as foreign markets close, which will cost us both American jobs and profits. To address trade imbalances, increase the number of American jobs, and strengthen our economy through trade, we should work in a bipartisan manner to modernize NAFTA and renegotiate trade agreements with our European and Pacific Rim allies.

Click here for my speech to the House of Representatives: No One Wins a Trade War

Preparing for Wildfire Season 

Wildfire season is now upon us. As we in California know all too well, wildfires can devastate our forests, our mountains, and our communities. Building on the wildfire prevention work with Governor Brown, I participated in the Wildfire Outlook Briefing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday, which was hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. It is essential that we continue to collaborate on how to best prepare for and defend against wildfires. Together, we can continue to explore the best solutions and ensure our firefighters have the resources to continue protecting lives and defending homes and businesses.

Understanding the Cybersecurity Needs of Victims of Crime

The internet is now part of our daily lives: from how we communicate and connect with friends and family, to how we work, play, travel, and conduct business. Because of these technological advancements, we are more productive and more interconnected than ever. Unfortunately, some use these new tools and technological capabilities to exploit and harm. At an increasing rate, perpetrators of violence also use technology to violate a victim’s privacy, engage in stalking or bullying, steal a victim’s money or identity, or tarnish their victim’s reputation online. As a co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, I led a forum on cybersecurity and victims of violent crime to increase our awareness and understanding of where technology and its use against victims intersect. We need to ensure the good work that we have done to protect victims’ rights and serve survivors applies to victims and survivors of cybercrimes as well. 

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 and sign up for my e-newsletter here. You can also follow my work and events in our Valley on my Facebook page and twitter account.


Jim Costa
Member of Congress

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