It’s been a busy couple of weeks back in the district as I update constituents on the important work I’m doing in Washington and listening to their concerns. Here are some highlights:
Ensuring Fair Labor Standards
The agricultural workforce in the Valley faces many challenges. I hosted an event with fellow Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jimmy Panetta, and TJ Cox, to see the contributions of agricultural farm workers firsthand. We toured Diepersloot Family Dairies in Madera where they employ 70 skilled workers.
After the event, we held an immigration workshop to further explore the issues facing our seasonal and year round immigrant labor force. We discussed H.R. 641 – the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2019, of which I am an original cosponsor. The bill would enhance the security of qualifying immigrants currently working in the U.S. by giving them “Blue Card” status. In turn, this will benefit farmers who depend on these skilled laborers to put food on America’s dinner table.
Advancing Future Infrastructure
As the population of California expands, our roads and bridges take an increased toll. It’s important that we work to diversify our transportation sector within the state to alleviate traffic congestion and provide more efficient alternatives. High Speed Rail offers the greatest promise to do so. I toured a site near Madera to see the project’s progress firsthand. In addition to promising a sleeker transportation option, High Speed Rail has also created over 3,000 jobs since construction broke ground. I will continue to support this project so we can make High Speed Rail a reality in California.
I continue to be amazed by the good work the students of our Valley are doing to push sustainable practices. I had the pleasure of meeting with Yosemite Valley High’s Green Team in Merced to hear about the initiatives they are working on to advance conservation efforts. These talented students have won many accolades for their achievements and I look forward to seeing the impact these talented students continue to have on our community.
The EPA recently announced the availability of $10 million in rebates to replace older high-emissions school buses under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), which I cosponsored this Congress. This incentive will improve children’s health, education outcomes, and improve air quality. I sent a letter to Administrator Wheeler in May, urging him to provide federal assistance to replace the high polluting vehicles. I am pleased the Administrator has listened and I am hopeful he will continue to be supportive going forward.
I also joined my fellow fellow Valley Congressional colleagues in submitting a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in response to the Trump Administration’s proposal to implement the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rule.
Through the efforts of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD), which I helped create, and the California Air Resources Control Board (CARB), California has achieved marked progress in reducing its carbon emissions and curbing pollution. Implementation of the SAFE rule threatens to undermine those efforts and inhibits progress to improving the air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.
We are hopeful that the Administration will reconsider a proposal that will negatively impact both the environment and the health and well-being of millions across the State.
This week, I introduced H.Res.615, designating October 8th as “National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day”. Development of this technology is critical as we continue to transition our energy to zero emissions and work to reduce our carbon footprint. Nearly 7,500 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are already on the road! In addition to powering cars, these fuel cell systems can provide more than 550 megawatts of clean energy to power anything from retail stores to universities.
We are in the face of challenging political times for our country. Fresno State University hosted Robert Costa as a guest lecturer to discuss the issues currently facing the nation. He moderated a panel of talented professors and sharp students, including Student Body President Omar Hernandez who leads efforts to increase civic engagement for Fresno State students and throughout the community. I am proud that my Alma Mater is leading the charge to make sure students and the wider community are more politically active.
4-H programs continue to help young people build the practical skills that are critical to success. I met with 5 local 4-H members, including Jose Campos to hear about the new programs they have on the horizon. In the past 3 years,they’ve boasted a growth of 339% in overall youth participation and 743% increase in Latino youth enrollment. As a former 4-H participant, I hope the impact of these programs continues to grow here in the Valley.
In Merced, I joined representatives from the offices of my state colleagues Assembly member Adam Gray and Senator Anna Caballero, in a Teacher Townhall where we discussed to the concerns and priorities of teachers around the area and updated them on the ways we’re working to support them. Teachers have one of the most important duties: guiding and preparing our future leaders. We owe them our support.
And finally this week, I had the pleasure to visiting the Fresno State College of Science and Mathematics. They are doing amazing things with their research programs and facilities. I will continue to work to secure federal funding to support the important work they’re doing.
Pushing for consistent foreign policy
The President’s decision to withdraw from Northern Syria and abandon our Kurdish allies is disgraceful and deeply harmful to our national security. Not only does this open the door to ISIS regrouping and resuming its horrendous acts of violence, but it also sends the message that the United States will not stand by those who fight at our side.
By leaving our Kurdish allies at the mercy of President Erdogan of Turkey, a leader with a clear track record of human rights abuses, we are betraying the ideals of our nation and the core principles that have long underpinned our national security strategy.
Expanding Quality Health Care Access
Ensuring that people throughout the Valley have access to quality healthcare continues to be one of my top priorities. I was pleased to celebrate the grand opening of the new Chowchilla Health Center Campus, which will provide a variety of services to the surrounding community, including Pediatrics, Family Medicine, and Women’s Health.
It’s always good to see our tax dollars coming back into the district. I am pleased to announce the city of Gustine was awarded $618,942 in Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Assistance to upgrade their fire engine and enhance their capacity to protect residents. I wrote a letter of support to Assistant Administrator Christopher Logan last year, urging him to seriously consider their grant application. As your representative, I will always fight to ensure that your hard-earned taxpayer dollars make it back to the community.
Walking to end Alzheimer’s
My family, like many in our country, has been impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease. As your representative, I’m doing everything I can to provide funding for research. Earlier this year, I submitted a letter requesting a $350 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institute of Health (NIH). We must come together to find a cure.
Upcoming Events Across the District:
The Big Fresno Fair:
Founded in 1884, The Big Fresno Fair is the 5th largest fair in the State. Their will be live music, fair food, free entertainment, brew fest, and a fall wine festival.
When:11:00 AM – 11:00 PM October 2-14
Where: Fresno fair grounds; 1121 S. Chance Avenue Fresno, CA 93702
This event will focus on helping participants become well rounded applicants for applying to medical school. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in skill-based and hands on workshops from current medical students, residents and doctors.
When: 8:00 AM-5:00 PM Saturday, October 12
Where: UC Merced; 5200 N Lake Road Merced, CA 95343