On Iraq

Dear Friend,

Last Saturday I joined many from our local Assyrian community for a rally at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco to protest the persecution of Christians in Iraq. In the last few days the situation in Iraq has grown even more dire.

Saturday’s rally was part of a nationwide protest of the persecution Christians and other religious minority groups have been enduring.

The world cannot tolerate the creation of a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East. Nor can we watch as some of the world’s most ancient religious communities are persecuted or destroyed. The Iraqi Christians and other minority groups are in desperate need of our aid, and many Central Valley residents have family members suffering under the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL) actions.

I support the humanitarian airlift underway in Iraq as well as increased coordination with and support of the Kurdish Peshmerga and other security forces battling ISIS on the ground. We cannot stand idly by and watch as the Iraqi people endure labeling, targeting and ethnic cleansing based on religion. The risks of inaction and the likelihood of genocide are too great.

With Tracy Mayor Brent Ives at the groundbreaking of Tracy Fire Station #96 on West Grant Line Road.

I spent the beginning of the week at home, where I met with startup business owners in Manteca, helped break ground at two new fire stations in Tracy, attended National Night Out events, donated backpacks to Interfaith Ministries’ back to school drive, toured the emergency room at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, visited Hogan Manufacturing in Escalon to see their work producing electric ramps and lifts and spoke to attendees at the Turlock Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast about our ongoing water crisis.

Darlene Quinn, the Director of Interfaith Ministries, has been there 7 days a week for 15 years. The donation will help K-12 students have the supplies they need as they head back to school this month.

Yesterday I attended the bill signing ceremony of the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 at Fort Belvoir, VA with President Obama and congressional leaders.

I joined President Obama and several of the VA reform bill’s supporters on Thursday.

The VA reform bill is just the first crucial step in ensuring our veterans receive the care they deserve. This bill increases access to care by making veterans eligible to see a private doctor if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. This will lift a huge burden on Central Valley veterans who have been driving hours to the Palo Alto facility.

The hardest work is just beginning as we work to implement these changes, and our mission isn’t over. The lesson of the past few years is clear: we cannot expect additional funds alone to solve the problem. This bill is merely a start on all of the necessary structural reforms that must take place within the Department. I look forward to working with the Veterans’ Affairs committee and Secretary McDonald to ensure these resources are used effectively so our vets get the care they deserve.

Please share your thoughts on how to reform the VA with me here.

For more updates on my work in Washington, D.C. and in the Valley, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

Have a great weekend!