Weekly Update from Rep. Jeff Denham - March 1, 2013
We have reached a point in Washington where we can no longer avoid the inevitable. Today, across-the-board spending cuts, totaling $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over 10 years, have gone into effect through a process known as “sequester.” The most common question I’m asked by constituents is “How did Washington get us into this mess in the first place?” That answer is simple: our government has a spending problem.
Like you, I share in the frustration that Washington cannot come together to solve our nation’s fiscal problems. I realize the need to make reasonable and responsible spending cuts and reforms so Washington starts spending within its means. I voted with the House twice on a bipartisan basis to replace the cuts of sequester with common sense spending reductions and reforms, thereby achieving budget savings without harming all federal programs. However, the president’s “sequester” plan written into law as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 was the wrong way to reduce the deficit.
Americans deserve to have Washington working for their priorities. We have to put aside partisan politics and come together to enact real reforms to rein in our growing debt and annual deficits just like our hardworking families have to do. As a farmer and father of two, I constantly face choices about how much I spend, how much I save, and how I can increase revenue. In the coming weeks, we must recommit our focus back on reducing spending, growing the economy and making Washington more responsible and accountable for the Valley. Please read more about my views on enacting real reforms without raising taxes or letting the president’s sequester go into effect in my op-ed in today’s Modesto Bee here: http://denham.house.gov/inthe-news/modesto-bee-denham-presidents-sequester-solution-ignores-debt-issue.
We not only owe it to our nation’s hardworking families to responsibly manage the government’s finances, but our brave veterans deserve our commitment that funding for their vital programs never gets held up by gridlock in Washington. This week I was proud to drive that point home alongside both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate during the launch of the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus in the 113th Congress. On Wednesday I joined fellow caucus co-chairs Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and Representative Tim Walz of Minnesota in spearheading this important project to promote the Caucus’ “I Hire Veterans” initiative with employers in the private sector who have also made personal and public commitments to helping our returning soldiers find work here at home.
You can learn more about our determination to make a difference in veteran unemployment in The Hill’s Wednesday op-ed, or by watching the videos below. When our courageous soldiers come home from war, they should not have to fight for jobs.
I also want to thank our private partners and the 50 Representatives and 38 Senators who have signed on to the Veterans Jobs Caucus and shared in our commitment by hiring veterans. With more than 250,000 servicemen and women expected to re-enter civilian life each year, veterans’ employment issues will only grow more challenging; the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus provides the unique opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to end the veteran unemployment crisis.
For more information on how you or your business can participate, please visit the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus page on my website, where you can find various resources along with the “I Hire Veterans” Logo to display in your workplace.
I also want to give a special thanks to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki for meeting with me on Wednesday morning to discuss the current French Camp veteran outpatient clinic and long-term care facility project. I look forward to working with the VA to find ways to complete this project in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner, so that we can better care for the much-deserving veterans in our community.
I also attended a Veterans Affair Committee hearing which focused on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Integrated Electronic Health Record system. After four years of coordination with the Department of Defense and close to a billion dollars spent on development, it is unacceptable that we still do not a single, unified record system, which has resulted in months of delays for veterans seeking to process disability claims. This has been an issue since I left active duty from the Air Force 24 years ago, and I expressed my extreme disappointment in VA and DoD’s failure to come together on one system during the hearing, which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFneKO4wMrc. READ MORE
On Tuesday, my subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held an informal meeting with various leaders in the transportation industry, and we are all excited about what we can accomplish during the 113th Congress. I look forward to working on important logistics issues, passenger rail options, including vigorous oversight of high-speed rail, and ensuring the safe transport of hazardous materials and safe pipelines. I met with Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph Szabo to look for ways to improve domestic freight and passenger rail across the country. I also met with Cynthia Quarterman, Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, to discuss current safety programs affecting the transportation industry. I want Valley businesses and commuters to have safe, reliable, efficient and affordable transportation options, while also ensuring tax payers get the most for their money and investment.
On Thursday, the House passed S.47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, with bipartisan support. While I supported the Senate’s version of this bill, I am proud that the Congress was able to come together to reauthorize such important legislation that protects women from abuse and punishes violent criminals. As a father of a young daughter, I would do whatever it takes to protect her; and I will continue to support legislation that gives the public and law enforcement the resources they need to protect others from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Finally, I was honored to receive two awards this week for my voting record during the 112th Congress. The American Conservative Union (ACU) named me a 2012 “ACU Conservative,” and the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) presented me with their “Supporter of the AMA Award” for my support of on- and off-highway motorcycle issues. From agriculture, to transportation, to innovative business ventures or natural resources, the Central Valley has much to offer not only to our nation, but to the global economy; and I will continue to support legislation that increases community safety and reduces the size of government and burdensome regulations, so that we can see our family and friends prosper.
It is always a privilege to represent you here in Washington, D.C., and please be sure to stay in touch and up-to-date by sharing our weekly newsletter and visiting my website, facebook, and twitter pages. I wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable weekend.