Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - March 21, 2014

Dear Friend,

I’ve had a great week at home in the Valley spending time with many 10th district residents.

On Sunday I had the honor of visiting several Sikh congregations in Tracy.  As a member of the Sikh coalition in Congress, one of my goals is to heighten awareness amongst my colleagues about the Sikh community, and the Central Valley is home to more than 25,000 Sikhs, the largest population in the United States. I spoke to the congregations about the ongoing fight for equal treatment in the U.S. military. I have sent two letters to the Secretary of Defense advocating for a change in military policy to allow Sikh service members to wear uniforms that respects their beliefs. KCRA has a video of the event here.

On Sunday evening I joined the Hindu Temple of Modesto to celebrate Holi, or the festival of colors. Check out my Facebook page for more photos.

I enjoyed celebrating Holi on Sunday. 

On Tuesday morning I had the honor of participating in the donation of 10 new computers to United Cerebral Palsy in Turlock. With the new software these computers can provide, some of their program participants may be able to communicate for the very first time. This donation, which was coordinated in conjunction with the Alliance for Affordable Services and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, will benefit UCP participants for years to come. I look forward to seeing the new learning opportunities these computers bring.

I visited Bob Lowry, the 95-year-old Iwo Jima Marine veteran vet whose birthday we celebrated a few weeks back, to present him with a framed copy of his biography, which I read into the Congressional Record, and a handwritten birthday note from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Having the opportunity to honor our community’s veterans is one of the great privileges of my job, and Bob is a wonderful example of the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fi.” In case you missed it in February, here’s a short video of my reading of Bob’s biography on the House floor.

It was an honor to meet Bob and his children. 

I spoke at a Riverbank Chamber of Commerce luncheon about our state’s ongoing water crisis and solutions we can work on at the federal and state levels, my efforts to oversee high-speed rail and the 2014 farm bill I worked on as a member of the conference committee. 

That evening I was honored to present Congressional Merit Awards to students from across the 10th district. Each year principals from high schools across the Valley have the opportunity to nominate a students for these awards, which are given based on the student’s academic achievement, leadership, involvement in extracurricular activities, school citizenship, volunteerism and community service. These students represent the best and the brightest. Their dedication to their studies and our community is exemplary.

It was great to meet so many talented students.

Hundreds attended the field hearing we held in Fresno on Wednesday morning, where we focused on long-term and immediate solutions to our ongoing water crisis. Valley farmers can’t wait for political inaction while all of our livelihoods are at stake, which is why the House passed a bill designed to alleviate the impacts of the drought last month. The bill we passed included two pieces of legislation I authored – one to store up to 100,000 acre feet more water in the New Melones reservoir, and the other to begin a pilot program on predator fish on the Stanislaus River.

I remain committed to working with every willing party to find solutions that can help us through this drought. I hope that will include our California Senate counterparts.

Please view a full video of the water hearing here.

On Wednesday I joined StanCOG, several city council members and a few Stanislaus county supervisors to celebrate the two vans we partnered together to secure last year for the VA Palo Alto Health Services Center. The new vans help more than 80 disabled vets in the Modesto area get to and from their medical appointments, drastically improving the quality of care they can receive. The vans are driven by volunteer veterans and have made a great difference for our VA centers.

The two vans we secured help veterans across the Valley every day. 

I had the opportunity to tour several great Valley businesses this week – 5.11 Tactical in Modesto, Heinz in Escalon and International Paper in Tracy. I remain focused on helping to create the jobs our Valley badly needs, and I had great conversations with these business owners about what we can do on the federal level to keep working on that goal.

I also held the first of many planned meetings of my women’s advisory committee. Their feedback – and yours – is crucial to helping me represent you, and I look forward to hearing more about some of their top priorities. We started yesterday’s discussion by focusing on just a few of the issues we can work on together, like jobs, education and human trafficking.

Last night I joined County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, State Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen and Turlock Mayor John Lazar for Government Night at CSU Stanislaus. We spoke and took questions on a wide range of issues. I always enjoy the opportunity to participate in townhall events like this one.

For an in-the-moment rundown of what I’m up to, follow my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.  You can also encourage your friends to subscribe to this newsletter.

Have an excellent weekend!


JEFF DENHAM