News from Representative Speier



May 10, 2019

This week, my Democratic colleagues in the House and I voted to protect Americans with preexisting conditions and to provide $17.2 billion in disaster relief funds for regions devastated by natural disasters, including California's communities ravaged by wildfires.

I testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about bringing the Me Too reckoning to Congress and the need to address discrimination and sexual harassment and assault in our federal agencies.

At an Oversight Committee hearing, I questioned National Drug Czar James Carroll about his lack of action in regards to the deadly drug crisis that has gripped our country.

I also met with 30 veterans service organizations at a roundtable hosted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss what the Democrats are doing to eliminate the "widow's tax" and I attended an Oversight subcommittee hearing held to address the alarming increase in veteran suicides.

Next week looks to be just as busy and I look forward to updating you on our progress as we continue to tackle the issues that affect hard-working Americans and their families.

As a Member of Congress, it is my honor and privilege to share information with my constituents in California's 14th District.

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Votes and Legislative Highlights

Protected Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions

This week, I voted yes on H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, to block the Trump Administration’s assault on our health care.

ImageIn October 2018, the Trump Administration issued guidance about waivers to states to skirt some of the comprehensive care requirements under the Affordable Care Act. The changes allow states to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions and promote junk insurance plans that do not cover essential health benefits such as maternity care, mental health services, and prescription drugs.

The House-passed legislation will immediately block the Administration’s damaging guidance from moving forward.

Provided Disaster Relief for Wildfires and Other Natural Disasters

On Friday, I voted for H.R. 2157, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provides $17.2 billion for communities still struggling to recover from natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.

This long-overdue disaster aid package will help California rebound from historically destructive wildfires that have ravaged the state. It also includes assistance for Puerto Rico, infrastructure and community development, social services, mental health, education, and dislocated worker initiatives, and funding for the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs to rebuild hurricane-damaged bases and facilities.

Where’s Jackie? 

Me Too in the Federal Workforce

This week, I testified at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights panel examining sexual harassment in government workplaces. I shared my experience bringing the Me Too reckoning to Congress by passing a law to ensure taxpayers no longer foot the bill for Members’ harassing behavior and survivors have stronger protections.

The Commission is specifically looking at NASA, which has been addressing harassment in the workplace head-on, and the State Department, which has struggled to prevent and respond to the problem.

I’ll be introducing legislation to overhaul the State Department’s policies by mandating better victim services and rights, Department-wide climate surveys, and greater transparency around disciplinary action. It’s time to seize this Me Too moment and build an enduring movement for change.

Drug Czar Fails to Respond to Drug Crisis

At Thursday’s Oversight Committee hearing on the national response to the drug crisis, I followed up on a request I had made at the last hearing on this topic two months ago.

ImageAt the previous hearing, I asked National Director of Drug Control Policy James Carroll for a response on how his office has adopted each of the 56 recommendations made by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Just before the hearing, Director Carroll’s team provided a generic one-page response that failed to address those specific recommendations.

At this week’s hearing, I confronted Director Carroll about this, which hit a nerve. He refused to provide an update on implementation of the Commission’s policy recommendations. Rest assured that I will continue to work with the Committee staff to make sure our national drug policy is guided by good ideas and this crisis receives the attention it deserves.

Speaker Pelosi’s Veteran Service Organizations Roundtable

On Wednesday, I joined Speaker Pelosi’s roundtable with 30 veterans service organizations to discuss challenges facing our veterans, including the need for access to quality health care. At the Speaker’s request, I updated the groups on our continued efforts to eliminate the “widows’ tax,” a deduction that prevents the spouses of deceased servicemembers from receiving the full share of benefits promised by the government.

ImageAlthough the rules of the House of Representatives make finding the funds for the offset difficult, I will keep pushing to ensure we fulfill our commitment to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Hearing on Veterans’ Suicides

On Wednesday, I attended an Oversight subcommittee hearing on the rise in suicides among our veterans. I was alarmed to hear about high suicide rates, especially among women, who are more likely to attempt suicide though less likely to die from suicide than men.

I was encouraged to learn about the Veterans’ Affairs Department’s efforts to lower suicide risk by improving access to mental health services and resources across the country, reducing stress and substance abuse among veterans, and limiting access to firearms.

As Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, I am committed to ensuring suicide prevention is incorporated over the course of a servicemember’s career.

Consumer Federation of America’s Annual Assembly

On Thursday, I spoke at the Consumer Federation of America’s Annual Assembly which gathers the nation’s leading advocates and policymakers to discuss contemporary issues facing the American consumer.

I’ve worked on consumer protection issues from my days in the California legislature to the last 11 years in Congress. I shared my most recent work tackling gender-based discrimination in the pricing of goods and services with the bipartisan Pink Tax Repeal Act. Women are not only making less money for the same work as their male colleagues, they’re also paying thousands of dollars more over their lifetimes for the same consumer products and services.

My bill would put an end to this insidious discrimination. I also discussed my ROBOCOP Act, which would require phone companies to provide customers with free tools to block those annoying robocalls and protect customers who are getting harassed and scammed.

Meetings with Jackie

California Life Sciences Association

I had the honor of meeting with members of the California Life Sciences Association, who are leading the charge for innovation in our district, the birthplace of biotechnology. We spoke about how the life sciences sector drives job creation and ingenuity, and how the industry can support health care advances to improve quality of life and ultimately decrease health care costs.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

ImageThis week, I spoke with constituents who are part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. We discussed the horrific reality that contractors have still not received backpay for the 35 days the government was shutdown due to Washington’s dysfunction.

These hardworking Americans deserve better than to be a political football used by this Administration and shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay bills and keep a roof over their heads. I am a cosponsor of the Fairness for Federal Contractors Act to ensure contractors receive their backpay immediately.

We also discussed the need to shore up our multiemployer pension plans, many of which will become insolvent within the next 20 years. I’m a proud cosponsor of the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act to bolster the health and stability of earned pension benefits.

Voices of California’s 14th District

ImageEach 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:


  • 200 constituents expressed their frustration with the way Attorney General William Barr handled the Mueller report. The President and the Attorney General’s utter lack of good faith in responding to the subpoena for the full Mueller Report and underlying evidence is ludicrous and the Judiciary Committee made the right move in voting to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.
  • 93 constituents expressed their opposition to offshore drilling. I agree and strongly oppose any new offshore drilling plans. I have long been committed to protecting California’s coastline and the Pacific ecosystem. Please know that I will continue to call for a moratorium on oil and gas leasing and fight for proactive energy legislation.
  • 70 constituents shared their support for H.R. 5, the Equality Act.  You will be happy to know that I am a cosponsor and staunch supporter of this crucial piece of legislation. While marriage equality across our nation is a positive first step, it is not our final goal – true equality is the goal. Please know that I will continue to work with my colleagues to promote LGBTQ equality however I can.
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