Weekly Update From Rep. Denham - August 17, 2012

Aug 17, 2012

Dear Friend,

This week, my Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management held two field hearings in California on relevant issues we have been working on in Washington. Yesterday, I chaired a Congressional hearing in Stockton to examine disaster preparedness in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. With jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), my Subcommittee’s responsibility includes ensuring that our region is able to prevent and mitigate disaster in the case of emergency. As you may know, the Delta includes over 1,000 miles of waterways and 1,100 miles of levees. A major disaster in the area, such as an earthquake, could result in devastating impacts on regional water supply, infrastructure, farmlands, and communities. It is a priority for me to ensure that we have a plan in place to mitigate and recover from any disaster that could occur. This Congress, I authored H.R. 2903, the FEMA Reauthorization Act, which would not only reauthorize FEMA and key emergency management programs such as the Urban Search and Rescue System, but would help streamline and reduce costs to disaster assistance programs, ensuring communities can recover more quickly following a disaster.

Following yesterday’s field hearing, I traveled south to Los Angeles to hold another field hearing. This time we convened in the Edward R. Roybal Courthouse to highlight the problem of the General Services Administration (GSA) wasting taxpayer money on empty and underutilized federal buildings across the country. Despite my work and legislation passed in the House of Representatives prohibiting funds to fill the building, GSA continues to push forward with a proposal to build a $400 million courthouse, leaving another building empty on prime LA property. This is the latest in a series of hearings held by my Subcommittee to highlight the problem of taxpayer money wasted on empty and underutilized federal buildings across the country. We will continue to hold hearings in empty, vacant, and expensive buildings until GSA decides to responsibly relinquish the space.

In addition to holding Subcommittee hearings throughout the state, I also met with a local board of realtors to discuss housing recovery in our region and how federal regulations are impacting prospective homeowners’ ability to secure mortgages to purchase property in the Valley. It is very important to me to listen to those in the industry who see how federal involvement either impedes or assists housing recovery so I can bring those voices back to Washington as we continue our efforts to solve our nation’s housing crisis.

It was a pleasure to meet with Dr. Joseph Sheley, the new President of California State University, Stanislaus, while I was in the district. I have every confidence that he will uphold the standard of excellence that has defined Stanislaus State throughout its history. Good luck to all students starting back to school on August 22nd. Go Warriors!

This week it was an honor to be awarded the 2011 Standing Up For America’s Seniors Award. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that when it comes time for individuals to retire and draw on their entitled Medicare and Social Security benefits, that those benefits they are counting on will be fully available to them. Because our seniors should not have to worry about their futures or whether they will be receiving less than they deserve, I support the Ryan budget, which anticipates the problematic insolvency of the Medicare program in the future and acts now to fix it before the problem escalates to a crisis which it will do if Congress does not intervene.

It was an honor to be able to join San Joaquin Valley Veterans, WestCare California, and our community’s veterans, volunteers, and donors to celebrate the grand opening of Fresno’s Veteran’s Plaza on Wednesday. Veteran’s Plaza will provide transitional housing for homeless veterans as they gain their footing in civilian life. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this much-needed project become a reality.

Additionally, I was able to drop by and talk with Inga Barks on the air this week about any and all issues of concern to residents of California’s Central Valley.  From the Farm Bill to California high-speed rail project, and from my subcommittee investigations of GSA’s spending scandals and wasted space to my job-creating Veterans Skills to Jobs Act which was recently signed into law, Inga and I listened to you and covered all the angles of interest. It’s always a pleasure to get the opportunity to talk to you over the air. If you missed it, I hope you will go listen in the broadcast archives.

I hope to see you and your friends and neighbors at the Central Valley Job Fair next Wednesday. The job fair provides an opportunity for job seekers to meet face-to-face with employers looking for new hires in the region.  The Job Fair is being facilitated by the Stanislaus Economic Development & Workforce Alliance (the Alliance) and will take place on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Stanislaus Country Fair Grounds in Turlock.  Employers will be accepting resumes and meeting with interested applicants throughout the day.  The event will be open to the public, and participants should bring several copies of their resume and wear business attire. Job seekers are encouraged to RSVP for the Job Fair online here.  Any employers interested in participating in the event should contact the Alliance at or sign up online here. 
The pre-job fair seminar workshop took place this week on Tuesday at Brandman University’s Modesto Campus. This was a great success as individuals throughout the community were able to gather and learn critical workforce development skills that will prepare them for the job fair next week. If you weren’t able to attend the workshop this week, I still encourage you to attend next week’s job fair.

Last week I started a new feature on my Facebook page as a way to introduce the interns who have been working hard to assist me in my efforts to represent you in Congress. These bright and talented students are dedicated to serving the constituents of the 19th Congressional District. Each week, we will highlight one of our outstanding interns from our Washington, D.C., and District offices in an Intern Spotlight column. This week we featured Oakland-native Gina Falaschi, who finished her summer internship in my Washington, D.C., office on Thursday. You can read more about Gina on my Facebook page here. For more information on Congressional Internships opportunities, please visit my website here.

It has been a busy week in Central California and I will continue the pace through the next weeks of the District Work Period. Please stop by my district offices or come introduce yourself at the jobs fair. I would be pleased to meet you in person and hear your concerns heading into the next legislative season in September.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!