A quick update from Congressman Huffman
I was disappointed when the Republican majority chose to adjourn Congress for the rest of summer instead of staying in Washington to tackle unfinished work on a host of pressing issues — including funding to respond to the fast-spreading Zika virus, the clean water crisis in Flint, closing loopholes in our background check system, and more. But there is no shortage of work to me here on the beautiful North Coast of California, so I am using this opportunity to catch up with my constituents, to address key district priorities, and to hear your feedback on what Congress should do when it reconvenes in September.
This is also a good time to update you on some of the issues I’ve been working on these past few months -- from pushing for commonsense gun violence prevention, to basic safety measures such as ridding children’s car seats of dangerous chemicals, to affordable housing, to providing new savings options to improve retirement security.
No Bill, No Break; Calling for Commonsense Gun Legislation
One my proudest moments as a Congressman came the week after the Orlando massacre, when I joined civil rights legend John Lewis and nearly the entire Democratic delegation from both chambers to “sit-in” for 26 hours on the House floor. We were protesting Republican inaction on gun violence following yet another terrible tragedy, requesting that we not take our July recess until they proposed legislation or allowed votes on bipartisan, commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence. Instead of working with us, they chose to cut the cameras to the House floor and declare an early recess. Our “sit in” protest showcased the urgent need – supported by four out of five Americans (including gun owners and even NRA members) – to implement more comprehensive background checks and close loopholes that allow guns into the hands of people who everyone agrees should not have them. Following the “sit-in,” I launched my own “Days of Action” agenda in the district which included meetings with constituents and groups who are working to protect communities from gun violence, including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Read my recent column on this important topic here.
Ending gratuitous displays of the racist, Confederate Flag on federal property
Recent debates in Congress about displaying Confederate flags on federal property have had me questioning what year we are living in, or more specifically what year House Republicans are living in. It is unfathomable that in 2016, we would still allow federal resources to be used for displaying this anachronistic symbol of treason and hate. For too many, this symbol is a blunt statement of support for racism, lynching, segregation and hate. Earlier this session, I proposed an amendment to prohibit funding used to display the Confederate battle flag over Veterans’ cemeteries. The amendment passed the House with strong bipartisan support, but then the Majority rushed through the conference report for that legislation, it got partisan again: in the middle of the night – literally during Democrats’ “sit-in”—House Republicans jammed through a conference report that inexplicably omitted the confederate flag amendment. They doubled down on the issue just last week by shutting down debate and refusing to allow votes on my legislation to curtail sales of Confederate flag merchandise in our national parks and to end the practice of allowing pro-Confederacy groups to decorate graves in our national cemeteries with the Confederate battle flag. I will continue fighting to put our federal government on the right side of history, consistent with what Republican Governor Nikki Haley did in South Carolina. I’m grateful for the support and collaboration of the NAACP and so many individuals and groups who share the goal of moving our country toward greater racial sensitivity and equality. Read more about my work to end these hateful displays on federal property here.
Ridding Our Children’s Car Seats of Dangerous Chemicals
Being a parent has sharpened my concern for the safety of our children, so when I learned about an antiquated transportation safety rule that was having profound unintended consequences for our children – exposing millions of them to toxic and carcinogenic chemical flame retardants in their car seats, with no documented safety benefits -- I knew something had to be done. That’s why in late May, after trying unsuccessfully to get the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reconsider this rule, I introduced legislation that would protect children from unnecessary and dangerous exposure to carcinogens and toxic chemicals included in their car seats. We can modernize the car seat flammability standard in a way that maintains fire safety while reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and ensuring that the EPA is consulted regarding the health effects associated with flame retardants. The legislation has already received support from many groups including the Green Science Policy Institute, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, The Ecology Center, and the Environmental Working Group. Check out more about this effort here.
Ensuring Every American is Retirement-Ready
Motivated by recent studies showing that over half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings, I am working on a proposal to help those Americans by providing new options to help save for a strong, stable, secure retirement. Earlier this summer, my co-sponsor Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and I introduced the American Savings Account Act. This legislation would build on the success of the high-quality retirement investment plan offered to federal workers since 1986 by making that plan available to every American who works in the private sector and doesn’t have access to an employer-sponsored savings account like a 401(k). This voluntary option would be in addition to Social Security, and it would give millions of hardworking citizens a new opportunity to ensure a secure and dignified retirement. More information on how this legislation will help North Coasters like you here.
I’ll be all over the beautiful North Coast the next several weeks, so look for me in your community and please don’t be a stranger- I’m always eager to hear your ideas and suggestions on how I can best serve you.
Contact me via Twitter, Facebook, email, or call one of my district offices and we will continue to help to the best of our ability. And check out my new Instagram account to see photos from my Washington, D.C., office and across the 2nd district!
With Best Regards,
Member of Congress