News from Representative Speier



January 11, 2020

This week's return to session saw my colleagues in the House and I take one of the most consequential votes any Member of Congress can cast, a vote to avert the President's reckless and willfully-ignorant march to war. President Trump put us on a perilous path that remains fraught with tension and places the more than 65,000 military servicemembers and embassy staff in the region at grave risk. It all goes back to his heedlessly petty withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal—which was working—and the alienation of our longstanding allies and partners. When Iran lashed out in response, Trump doubled down and killed a senior Iranian leader, setting off Iran’s latest retaliation and galvanizing  people in the region against the U.S. who had, until just last week, been demonstrating against the regime. The question everyone should be asking is whether the President's rash foreign policy decision, and his presidency overall, have made us more safe. The answer is no.

That is why I proudly joined 224 of my colleagues, including several Republicans, who voted to reassert Congress' constitutional war powers to prevent further escalation of a conflict that the American people do not want. Our message was clear: The Constitution gives Congress, and only Congress, the power to declare war.

That was far from the only business conducted in the House, as you will see below. My colleagues and I took action on limiting PFAS chemical exposure, though there is far more that must be done to address this public health threat. We also voted to advance 5G technology to keep America globally competitive. And we continued to fight against Senator Mitch McConnell's and President Trump's joint scheme to undermine the Senate impeachment trial process and keep the facts of the President's misconduct and corruption hidden from the American people.

Next week will be just as busy so make sure you check out the next Jackie's DC Dashboard.

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

Reasserted Congress’ Constitutional Powers to Prevent War

On Thursday, the House passed Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s resolution by a vote of 224-194 to prevent the President from initiating military actions against Iran, which I voted for and co-sponsored. This bipartisan vote sends a strong message to President Trump that we will not tolerate dangerous foreign policy whims that cannot be justified as "imminent."

ImageI also support Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislation to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Military Force that the Administration is improperly using to justify the Qassem Soleimani killing and further war with Iran, as well as Congressman Ro Khanna’s provision to ban funding for military action against Iran not authorized by Congress. Only by speaking out and taking action can Congress pump the breaks on Trump’s war machine.

Like so many of you who have reached out in the wake of this escalation, I remain deeply concerned for the safety of more than 65,000 Americans stationed in the region as well as the security of the nation. We are less safe than we were two years ago and the President cannot be trusted to continue managing the crisis he created. I hope that our Republican colleagues in the Senate will respect Congress’s constitutional authority on this matter and do what is right.

Impeachment Update: Standoff Between Chambers on Trial Rules

With our return to session this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to hold the articles of impeachment that the House approved in December and that accuse the President of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Before sending over the articles to initiate the Senate trial, Speaker Pelosi has rightly insisted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put forward fair trial rules that include subpoenaing documents and testimony from witnesses.

Sen. McConnell wants to avoid a full and fair trial at all costs because it would expose even more details about the corrupt and treacherous schemes of President Trump. To that end, Sen. McConnell has been working closely with the White House to rig the trial for an easy acquittal. This is a travesty and makes a mockery of the Constitution and the Senate Rules that require Senators to swear an oath to be impartial jurors that states, . It’s an oath Sen. McConnell and other Republicans have violated before the trial even begins by colluding with the defendant.

Since the House vote in December, further evidence has come to light underscoring the need for subpoenaed witnesses and documents to be presented at the Senate trial to ensure a fair process that provides the American people with the truth. First, it was revealed that documents produced by the Administration in response to court orders redacted the most incriminating emails—the textbook definition of a “coverup.” And former National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that he would testify at the Senate trial if a subpoena were issued, to provide us with new information about President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. President Trump initially said would be up to the Senate to determine witnesses, but then indicated that he would seek to block Bolton’s testimony. Please know that my Democratic colleagues and I will not give up on our search for the truth and congressional oversight duties.

Voted to Regulate Harmful “Forever Chemicals” and Protect Consumers

This week, the House took long-overdue action to regulate PFAS, a class of thousands of chemicals that accumulate in the environment and in our bodies. In spite of extensive evidence that PFAS are associated with adverse health impacts, the EPA has failed to take meaningful regulatory action to protect Americans and their families. While servicemembers and communities located near military facilities are particularly at risk of PFAS exposure, the CDC estimates that a staggering 98 percent of the US population already have PFAS in their blood.

On Thursday, I voted to take an important first step toward addressing this contamination with the PFAS Action Act of 2019. This groundbreaking legislation would force the EPA to set a safe drinking water limit for PFAS that takes into consideration particularly vulnerable populations. It would also designate PFAS as a “hazardous substance” under the SUPERFUND law, a tool for cleaning up contaminated sites and ensuring that polluters bear responsibility for the brunt of remedial costs. Critically, this legislation also contains provisions to promote accountability from chemical manufacturers, ensure transparency for consumers, and support communities with contaminated water sources. If passed by the Senate, the PFAS Action Act will go a long way toward addressing PFAS pollution in our water and air. However, we must still fight to ensure that common household items such as cookware, food wrappings, and personal care items like cosmetics and sunscreen are PFAS free and safe for consumers!

Voted to Advance 5G Communications Infrastructure and Security

On Wednesday, I voted in favor of a package of bills addressing the advancements of fifth-generation (5G) technologies – the future of the global telecommunications market. China has taken great efforts to advance their 5G networks and it’s imperative for the United States to do the same and then some. This package of bills will help ensure adherence to international security recommendations adopted at the Prague 5G Security Conference, develop a 5G security strategy in consultation with our intelligence community, and support U.S. leadership at international 5G standards-setting bodies. Congress must ensure that America remains a global leader for new technologies and I will continue to work so that our District – in the heart of Silicon Valley – continues to set the trends and be ahead of the curve.

Where’s Jackie?

Oversight Hearing on Census Efforts to Reach Hard-to-Count Communities

On Thursday, in the Oversight Committee, I heard from public advocacy groups on the preparedness of the 2020 Census, and the Census Bureau’s efforts to reach hard-to-count communities. The Census is crucial to distributing over $1.5 trillion a year in federal support for housing, health care, education, and so much more that is needed to build strong communities.

ImageThe Census is crucial to distributing over $1.5 trillion a year in federal support for housing, health care, education, and so much more that is needed to build strong communities. It is important for Congress to ensure everyone’s rights and needs are met, and that we have an accurate count. An inattentive and sloppy Census count threatens real harm to harder-to-count populations such as immigrants, people in poverty, individuals experiencing homelessness, young children, LGBTQ communities, and people with disabilities.

Instead of dedicating efforts to ensuring an accurate count, this Administration frittered away years in an effort to bias the count and silence immigrant communities with a citizenship question. Because they failed to focus on the job at hand, they now are playing catch-up to hire census employees and engage in outreach necessary for a full and accurate count. The silver lining of Thursday’s hearing was the testimony of civic advocates engaged in grassroots efforts to reach hard-to-count communities and make sure they are counted. The House Oversight Committee will continue to engage in oversight of the Census Bureau to pressure them to do their job and get an accurate count.

Meetings with Jackie

Congressional Offices Implementing the #MeToo Congress Act

This week, I met with leadership of the Office of Employee Advocacy and Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, which is responsible for helping to ensure legislative branch employees’ rights are respected and the dispute resolution process is fair. I heard an update on implementation of the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) Reform Act, which was based on my #MeToo Congress Act to finally rein in the scourge of harassment and discrimination in the halls of Congress. 

I was pleased to hear that the new Office of Employee Advocacy, which now provides legal advice and representation to complainants, is being utilized and well-received by employees and that Office of Congressional Workplace Rights changes are coming along smoothly. I will continue to conduct oversight and push for change so that all employees may benefit from the safe and respectful workplaces they deserve.

Economic Gains From Women's Equality in Nordic Countries

ImageThis week, I had the honor of sitting down with the Ambassadors from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland for a bipartisan Women’s Caucus meeting about the economic gains their countries have experienced thanks to a greater focus on women’s equality. We learned about how policies such as universal child care, paid family and medical leave, and reproductive freedom create an environment that promotes women’s participation in the economy and political life.

Women’s equality is not just a moral good, it makes economic sense. Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter attributed 20 percent of Sweden’s GDP growth to women’s increased labor force participation. Research shows that when women have the tools to succeed and there is greater gender equality in societies, those societies are more peaceful and prosperous. The United States has a long way to go and lots of opportunities for growth on women’s equality. Rest assured that I won’t stop fighting until our policies unleash the power of women and girls.

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 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:

• 628 constituents expressed grave concern for the hostilities between the United States and Iran after the lethal airstrike near the Baghdad airport that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani. I strongly agree with your concerns and believe this strike constitutes the Trump Administration’s biggest and most consequential foreign policy blunder to date and proudly joined my colleagues this week in voting for the War Powers resolution.

• 45 constituents shared support for the Endangered Species Act. I am proud to have a long record of support for animal and wildlife conservation and have signed multiple letters to the Administration supporting the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and wildlife conservation programs. Recent efforts to derail the ESA are part of a greater trend of politically-motivated assault on science and the environment. You have my word that I will fight against these efforts and work to safeguard our wildlife conservation laws.
• 25 constituents expressed support for gun violence prevention. As a survivor and a Vice-Chair on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I am deeply committed to doing everything within my power to strengthen our nation's woefully inadequate gun safety laws and will not back down until Congress passes meaningful gun violence prevention solutions.

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