Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - December 7, 2012

Dear Friend,

This week I was honored to be appointed to serve on the House Agriculture Committee and reappointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during the 113th Congress. As a Central Valley farmer, I understand the specialized needs of various sectors of our agriculture economy. A position on the House Agriculture Committee will allow me to bring a larger voice for California’s largest industry to the table when discussing federal policy and reform. I will also continue my work from my seat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to make sure we continue to improve California’s infrastructure needs. In addition, I’ve made a request to be reappointed to either the House Committee on Veterans Affairs or the House Committee on Natural Resources.

On Thursday I participated in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing to call on U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to address growing concerns regarding the viability of the proposed California High Speed Rail project in the Administration’s high-speed rail program. I have always believed that there needs to be a concrete business plan, with private investors, before billions of taxpayer money is spent on this idea. Earlier this year, the House passed my amendment to H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013, preventing funding from being used on California High-speed Rail. You can watch a video from My FOX LA questioning the Administration’s moving forward with this project without a concrete business plan that ensures accountability for taxpayer dollars and instills confidence in private investors here. The next time you’re driving down the road or picking up the kids from school, just think what those billions of federal dollars could be spent on instead; or maybe even keeping our tax rates at a reasonable level so we don’t have to spend the money. 

As Chairman overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), I held a hearing this week to address the critical need for meaningful reforms to FEMA in order to efficiently plan and prepare for disasters as well as to streamline the rebuilding process to get affected communities back working again. You can view my opening remarks here:  

Thanks to the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) for inviting me to speak during their Indian Gaming Summit, and I especially enjoyed meeting our California friends from NIGA in attendance. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss regulatory and legislative issues impacting local tribes and our efforts to protect Tribal sovereignty. Additionally, I participated in the White House Tribal Nation’s Conference on December 5th held at the Department of the Interior.  It was an honor to attend with the President and hear his thoughts on important issues facing our Tribal Nations. 

If you have followed my work to hold the General Services Administration (GSA) accountable, you will be pleased to hear, as I am, that the GSA has announced the possible redevelopment of a highly valuable underdeveloped and underutilized federal property in the heart of Washington, DC. The area comprises 22 acres adjacent to the National Mall. One of the involved buildings is the Cotton Annex, the location of one of the hearings I held this Congress on empty and underutilized federal buildings across the country. I hope this proposal is a sign of the GSA’s seriousness about eliminating waste and increasing efficiency in our government. I look forward to completing work on the Civilian Property Realignment Act, which I introduced this Congress to improve federal real property management and create savings by shrinking the federal footprint and selling or redeveloping underutilized buildings.

As we approach the pending "Fiscal Cliff" and Congress's actions to avert automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January 2013, I wanted to let you know that I am working on your behalf to ensure the greatest stability and good for all Americans. I voted for the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 which passed in the House of Representatives to ensure that our military is not adversely affected by sequestration, which would implement a $55 billion cut to the defense budget alone for the next fiscal year. As I write, conversations are taking place between the President and Congressional leadership to reach consensus on legislation that can be enacted into law as soon as possible avert sequestration.

Please let me know your thoughts and concerns as the end of the year approaches. I appreciate hearing from you through my website, Facebook and Twitter, where you can find regular updates about my work at home in the Valley and in Washington.

Have a great weekend!

JEFF DENHAM