We wrapped up the August district work period and now the House is back in session this week. I’ve enjoyed having so many great conversations with community leaders, local groups, and constituents, and I look forward to addressing those concerns here in Washington. Here are some highlights from the last two weeks:
I’m making a major push to work on meaningful gun policy reform. I took the opportunity to speak on the House Floor, urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up several gun safety bills the House passed earlier this year, including H.R. 8 – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which I co-sponsored. I am hopeful that we can work together over the next few weeks to achieve positive change for a safer America.
Working with the Hispanic Caucus
It was a pleasure to meet Vicky Espinoza (photo above), a PhD candidate from UC Merced, who is studying water and land use, during the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Leadership Conference in Washington. I’m a proud member of the caucus.
At CHCI’s Future of Water for Better Environment and Economy panel, I spoke about how climate change threatens to exacerbate already occurring droughts and shortages. One way we can work to address these challenges is to modernize our water infrastructure and to encourage collaboration between federal, state and local leaders.
Fighting for Valley water
The effects of Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which has been moving through the state legislature and could have profound impacts on the long-term availability of water in the Valley.
Last week, I sent a letter with Senator Feinstein, and Reps. Cox, Harder, and Garamendi to Governor Newsom urging him to include two amendments that would keep key players at the table to resolve the state’s water crisis. By providing additional flexibility, we can incorporate new science into decisions that affect the state’s water supply and prevent these complex negotiations from devolving into a long and costly legal battle.
You can learn more about SB1 and its effects on California’s water challenges in this editorial I submitted to The Fresno Bee and Merced Sun-Star.
Honoring our fallen heroes
It was an honor to recognize Fresno State Police Chief David Huerta, who passed away on August 16, 2019. Chief Huerta served in law enforcement with integrity for 45 years and oversaw many positive changes to the community and to the Fresno State Police Department during his tenure. He was a dedicated community leader who will be missed by many in the Fresno community.
Investing in the future
High-speed-rail construction is having a real impact on the Valley’s economy. So far the project has created 3,000 jobs across the Central Valley, including 121 in Madera County and 1,134 in Fresno County. As a member of the Congressional High Speed Rail Caucus, I will continue to do all I can to see this project completed.
Engaging with constituents
In Fresno, I hosted a town hall with Valley Latino leaders and community members to discuss their concerns. We had a productive conversation about the upcoming 2020 Census, immigration, child development, and infrastructure. It’s important to understand to the community’s priorities as I evaluate legislation in the fall session.
Celebrating America’s workers
On Labor Day I had the honor to celebrate with some of the Valley’s hardest workers at the Fresno Madera Tulare Kings Central Labor Council Labor Day Festival. Ensuring workers are paid a fair wage is central to providing equal opportunity for the American dream. That’s why I voted for H.R. 582 – the Raise the Wage Act.
Honoring Valley veterans
On September 10th, I testified before the Veteran’s Affairs Committee to urge them to take up H.R. 4204 – the Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans Service Expansion and Recognition Act, which I recently introduced. This legislation builds on last year’s efforts in H.R. 1625 – the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which was successful in granting burial rights in our national cemeteries to many Hmong service members. However, coverage for a large portion of veterans was left out of the final appropriations bill. This supporting legislation extends eligibility to a greater number of deserving citizens. I hope the committee will support this legislation. These brave individuals deserve recognition for their sacrifice and service to our nation during the Vietnam War.
At the Elks Lodge in Merced on September 8th, our veteran community was proud to honor Frank Paredes (photo above) and his family. The 99-year-old veteran who served in World War II and is a Pearl Harbor survivor. Our office was able to secure from the United States Military and the National Archives the five medals he earned for valor.
It was also an honor to give a send-off to veterans who participated in the 20th Central Valley Honor Flight. This group, which includes nearly 70 veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam War, spent three days in Washington visiting landmarks including the Vietnam, World War II and Korean War Memorials and Arlington National Cemetery. It is an important effort to show appreciation for those who have sacrificed so much in service of our country.
Visit their website to find out how you can participate.
On the legislative side, I co-sponsored H.R.2249 – World War I Valor Medals Review Act, which would review service records of minority groups during World War I to determine if they should be awarded the Medal of Honor. It’s important that our veterans are duly recognized for their service.
Valley lands big dollars
Our office always works to see that our taxpayer dollars comes back to the district. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Planning and Development Program announced that Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) were awarded to Merced and Madera counties. Merced will also receive the HOME grant, which will increase the supply of affordable housing in the city.
We are pleased to announce that this fall my office will participate in the Congressional App Challenge. I’m challenging middle and high school students from across the 16th district to create and submit their original apps for an opportunity to win the Congressional App Challenge. This is a meaningful way for students interested in computer science to apply their talents and gain coding experience.
Click here to find out more information or call my Fresno district office at (559) 495-1620.
Upcoming Events Across the District:
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat:
Playhouse Merced Presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” sponsored by St. Paul School.