News from Representative Speier


March 15, 2019

This week, President Trump released his third budget for FY2020 and it is a recipe for disaster. It is fiscally irresponsible, would blow up the deficit to unprecedented levels, and proves the Trump Tax Scam’s claim that tax cuts for the rich would pay for themselves is a lie. Defense spending would also continue to balloon while our national security would be put at risk in so many other ways: $1 trillion would be taken away from discretionary domestic spending, in every possible category.

The President’s budget would gut education funding, including pulling the rug out from under students working in the public interest who are buried in debt and relying on loan forgiveness. In infrastructure, the budget double-decimates the Department of Transportation’s budget at a time when our roads and bridges are crumbling. Also snuck into the budget is a disastrous 23% cut to the State Department, which would further diminish the USA’s diplomatic position on the international stage.

Digging into the budget reveals many more calamitous cuts to the cherished fabric of American society. Please know that I am working with my Democratic colleagues to defend programs that are crucial and beneficial to all Americans, not just the richest 1 percent.

Votes and Legislative Highlights

Voted for Resolution to Ensure Mueller Report is Made Available to the Public

On Thursday, I voted to pass a resolution that expressed the sense of Congress that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report should be made available to the public and to the Congress. . H.Con. Res. 24 passed the House with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 420-0.

I have long promoted transparency across government to ensure the public can hold elected officials accountable. These principles are especially important in this case because Mueller is investigating the extent to which the President and his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.


Introduced Legislation to Award a Congressional Gold Medal to Rosies

On Thursday, I introduced H.R. 1773, the Rosie the Riveter Congressional Gold Medal Act to honor the millions of women who worked and volunteered on the home front during World War II. 
These amazing trailblazers obliterated barriers for women in the workplace and were instrumental in the production of the equipment and weapons that won the war. It’s long past time that they receive the same respect and recognition as our other WWII heroes.

Declared July 30th as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day

Also on Thursday, I introduced H. Res. 240, a House resolution declaring July 30, 2019 National Whistleblower Appreciation Day to acknowledge the bravery of American whistleblowers who risk their careers to identify fraud, misconduct, and waste.

Congress has relied upon these individuals since our nation’s earliest days – the first whistleblower protection legislation was passed by the Continental Congress 241 years ago on July 30, 1778. Since Congress substantially strengthened the False Claims Act in 1986, recoveries by the US Treasury of squandered taxpayer money now exceed $56 billion. Not one penny of that monumental sum would have been reclaimed were it not for the courage and commitment of whistleblowers. They deserve our utmost respect and protection, not to be fed to the wolves of corporate greed and special interests.

Where’s Jackie?


Military Personnel Subcommittee Hearing on Recruitment and Retention

On Tuesday, I chaired a hearing of the Military Personnel Subcommittee with outside policy experts to discuss what our military must do to recruit and retain the best servicemembers our country has to offer. We invest so much into these young women and men, but current Department of Defense (DOD) practices have failed to keep them enlisted we need them most. As Chair of the MILPERS Committee, I have made it a priority to critically examine what practices the DOD must overhaul to retain our top servicemembers. 

Floor Speech on the Contradictory EPA Declaration on Redwood City Salt PondsImage

On Tuesday, I stood on the House floor and read portions of the Region 9 report, previously withheld from the public, which clearly contradicts the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s determination under the Trump Administration that the Redwood City Salt Ponds are exempt from the Clean Water Act (CWA).

I refuse to allow the President to get away with quietly manipulating science and facts to undermine environmental protections in my district. In addition to reading the key findings of the Region 9 report into the congressional record I also published the report in its entirety on my website. You can watch my floor speech here.

House Armed Services Committee Hearing on National Security Challenges and Military Activities in Europe

I participated in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, which featured testimony from the Commander of United States European Command, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Kathryn Wheelbarger. Both testified about the important role NATO plays in preserving international security and answered questions about America’s role in this vital alliance.

Questioned FOIA Officials on Lack of Transparency

On Wednesday, I participated in the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which ensures that the public has access to government documents and information. I questioned the Department of Interior’s FOIA officer about attempts to withhold final analyses about endangered species and lamented the fact that this Administration has been delinquent in making required proactive online disclosures.

Confronted Commerce Secretary on His Lies to Congress

In a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday, I asked Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross why he told Congress last year that the Department of Justice “initiated” a request to add a citizenship question to the Census when, as documents clearly show, the Commerce Department was shopping the idea around to federal agencies to find one that would make the request.

ImageSec. Ross’s testimony to Congress was not truthful and it is now beyond dispute that the Commerce Department fabricated a rationale to add a citizenship question to the Census at the request of Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach to intimidate and silence immigrant communities.

UXO/Demining Caucus Discussion of Sri Lanka’s Quest to Be Mine Impact Free By 2020

On Thursday, I hosted a UXO/Demining Caucus discussion on “Moving Towards a Mine Impact-Free Sri Lanka.” I am proud to serve as founder and co-chair of this bipartisan Caucus with co-chair, Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH). The event included speakers from the State Department and non-governmental organizations The HALO Trust and Mines Advisory Group (America), as well as representatives from the Embassy of Sri Lanka. Last summer, I traveled to Laos to see firsthand the devastating impact of our leftover ordnance and the positive psychological and economic effects that result from removal. I am hopeful that with sustained funding, effort, and attention, Sri Lanka can be declared mine impact-free within the next two years.

Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus Briefing on NIH

As co-chair of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, I kicked off the first briefing of the 116th Congress. It focused on the importance of funding research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I had the honor of introducing our esteemed speaker from the Bay Area, Dr. Keith Yamamoto, the Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy at UCSF.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world’s leading supporter of fundamental discovery and innovation that saves lives, improves health, and reduces the burden of illness. It’s also an economic powerhouse, supporting more than 400,000 jobs and nearly $69 billion in economic activity across the country. Dr. Yamamoto provided an overview of the NIH and how it sets research priorities and solicits input from the scientific community and the public.

Briefing on the Need for the Equal Rights Amendment

My office assisted in coordinating a briefing to discuss the dire need for constitutional equality for women and the path toward ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The ERA is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. It’s needed both as a legal tool for achieving equality and justice and a statement of principle. As the late Justice Antonin Scalia said, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

My joint resolution, H.J. Res. 38, will help right this constitutional wrong by repealing the expired deadline for ratification of the ERA. With recent action by Nevada and Illinois, we are just one state shy of ensuring equality for women.

Voices of California’s 14th District

Each week, hundreds of my constituents reach out to my San Mateo and Washington, D.C. offices to express their concerns and support for issues and get information about legislation and policies. Every constituent who writes in receives a personal response.

Here are some issues constituents raised this week:
  • 108 constituents expressed concern about the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. I agree that many prescription drugs are far too expensive and Congress must do everything it can to ensure Americans are able to access the treatments they need.
  • 107 constituents voiced support for the WATER Act. This bill provides funds to improve drinking water in schools and reduce the amount of lead in our water infrastructure. Everyone should have access to safe, clean water, especially our children. Should this bill reach the House floor it will receive my support.
  • 39 constituents expressed their support for H.R. 1146, the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act. I am a cosponsor of this important bill that would repeal the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and gas program.

Correction from last week’s newsletter


Due to a technical problem last week, many of you received two copies of the newsletter including one that contained an error stating that my colleagues and I voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It should have said that my colleagues and I introduced a bill to reauthorize VAWA. Rest assured that I will continue to advocate passage of this important bill that provides crucial resources for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

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