As the year wraps up...
As the 114th Congress comes to a close, I want to express my heartfelt thank you for the tremendous honor of representing you and the second district of California in Congress and take a moment to reflect on the victories of the past two years.
Each term of Congress, I receive more than 250,000 emails and letters, thousands of phone calls, and I meet with many of you in person at town halls, “Coffee with your Congressman” events, office meetings, and various other public forums. Your ideas, input, and feedback not only help me in the work I do; they serve as a reminder that I represent some of the most well-informed and engaged citizens in the country.
Although we faced an at-times infuriating political gridlock during the 114th Congress, I am proud of the many victories we were able to achieve over the past two years. Here are just a few highlights:
- We successfully passed a provision in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 to increase affordable housing in West Marin by requiring the Coast Guard to convey a 30-acre housing property located in Point Reyes Station to the County of Marin.
- Nearly 1,000 Californians – including farmers, environmentalists, fishermen, and urban and rural residents – shared their comments and ideas with me for how best to respond to the worst drought in California’s history. This unprecedented public input allowed for me to introduce legislation in one of the most open and transparent processes we have ever seen.
- In response to my amendment to ban the display of the Confederate battle flag on public lands, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it would no longer allow for the large-scale display of Confederate battle flags at our national cemeteries. I am grateful that the VA responded to your concerns and decided to prohibit this divisive symbol from being flown over our national veterans cemeteries.
- I introduced the Keep it in the Ground Act to permanently bar new fossil fuel leases on all federal public lands and in federal waters. Our oceans and our public lands — including the fossil fuel deposits beneath them —belong to the American people, and it’s time that the law begin to reflect the urgent need to prevent carbon emissions that will lead to catastrophic climate change.
- My office helped over 3,600 constituents get the assistance they need from federal agencies and brought in over $300 million in federal funding to the second district of California.
The past two years also brought about some truly historic events.
Marin native Jason Rezaian and his wife were arrested in Tehran on July 22, 2014, and Jason was unjustly detained in Evin Prison for the “crime” of being a journalist for over 500 days. Over the course of his detention, I worked closely with Jason’s family and built support for Jason’s cause. This included meetings with the State Department, and foreign officials, as well as inviting his brother Ali to join me at President Obama’s State of the Union address at the Capitol. After Jason’s release on January 16, 2016, I was honored to fly to Germany to meet the man whose freedom was championed throughout my district and around the world. I will always be grateful to the Obama administration for concluding a deal that secures Jason's freedom without compromising our national security interests.
Following years of hard work by tribal, fishing, and environmental communities, the historic Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement was signed this spring. The unprecedented agreement will allow for the federal government, California and Oregon, and the private company which owns the dams, PacifiCorp, to begin working through the process to remove the dams that block salmon runs on the Klamath River by 2020. This is a significant step towards restoring one of the West Coast’s most iconic rivers and will open up the largest river restoration in U.S. history.
Joining Congressman John Lewis and over 150 Democrats in the historic sit-in on the House floor was my proudest day as a member of Congress. This kind of action had never happened before, but it was necessary to finally stand up and urge an immediate vote on common-sense gun legislation that has been stalled for years. In the wake of the largest mass shooting in American history, the Senate voted down four different bills to address gun violence, while the House majority would not even allow for a vote. Following the sit-in, I spent time across the North Coast meeting with constituents, advocacy groups and youth who want to see change, even had a chance to have a productive meeting with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, whose moving letter to Congress encouraged us on the House floor during our sit-in.
Looking ahead to the 115th Congress and beyond
As someone who believes in fighting climate change, investing in clean energy, using smart diplomacy, and pushing towards full equality for all, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, or gender, I know we face an uphill battle on these issues in Congress and with the next Administration.
As your Congressman, I will do everything I can to stand up for all of the values that we share, safeguard civil rights and liberties, protect the environment, and continue our transition to a clean energy economy. California has always been a leader in these vital fights, and by working together and through productive discussions, and with the backstop of strong leadership at the state and local level, I know we will continue this forward progress.
Thank you again for the continued honor of representing you in Congress. I hope you and your family have a very happy holiday season.
With Best Regards,
Member of Congress