Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - March 8, 2013
It was a productive and busy week in Washington, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet with so many constituents and local officials during their visits to our nation’s capital. As a California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, alumni, it was a privilege to meet University President Jeff Armstrong for an update on campus priorities and activities.
I also met with California State University, Stanislaus, President Joseph Sheley and Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Dave Tonelli to discuss many important issues including ensuring access to higher education for Central Valley students and providing assistance to help them prepare for and succeed in college.
Scott Soiseth, Director of Child Nutrition, Wendy McPhetridge, Director of Child Nutrition, and Steve Spears, grower and seller, from California School Nutrition Association came by my office as well to discuss new approaches to improving community health by focusing on education, access to healthy food, and access to health care.
I also heard from several different groups and representatives about protecting the interests of California’s agriculture industry, which we all know plays a critical role in the Valley’s economy, and in turn, many of our jobs. I sat down with representatives from Hilmar Cheese Company, Del Monte Foods, the California Farm Bureau and many others who shared their perspective on a variety of issues, including the need for a long-term Farm Bill, which is also a priority I’m working on as a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
One of my greatest honors as a Member of Congress and a veteran myself is the ability to help fulfill the promises made to our veterans for their brave and distinguished service to our country. It was my honor to present an American flag that was flown over the Capitol to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) California group, who travelled to DC to discuss a number of issues facing veterans including the VA’s unacceptable backlog of disability claims. As a veteran myself, I understand how important our work is to continually improve care and support for our veterans and as the sole Member from the Valley on the Veteran Affairs Committee, you can count on me to fight to preserve the rights, protections and benefits our veterans deserve.
On Tuesday I chaired the first hearing of the 113th Congress as chairman of the Railroad, pipelines and hazardous materials subcommittee, which focused on the importance of freight and passenger rail to America’s transportation system and the economy. I’m committed to reauthorizing America's rail this year, and this hearing was a productive start to that effort. Our goal is to reexamine what has worked in the past and what needs to be reformed. We have to be pragmatic and transparent and are counting on participation from all parties in order to pass a bipartisan, robust and comprehensive reauthorization bill in the House by fall.
Additionally, on Wednesday the House took the first step to reassure hardworking Americans that the federal government will continue operating by passing legislation to provide funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. The legislation also offers much-needed flexibility to the Department of Defense to best protect the interest of our national defense and help our veterans while coping with existing spending reductions. I hope the Senate takes quick action to pass the House measure without delay so we can return our focus to helping Americans get back to work and getting Washington’s spending under control.
Finally, it is with sincere regret and bewilderment that I must inform my constituents of the White House’s decision to cancel all White House tours effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice.
It’s disappointing that the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting the self-guided tours for the public, but I want to assure you that my office will continue to provide tours of the United States Capitol and also is here to help arrange a wide variety of other tours and sight-seeing options when traveling to your nation’s capitol. I encourage you and your family to stop by my office at 1730 Longworth House Office Building during your trip to Washington, D.C. If you haven’t already made arrangements through my office for a Capitol tour, I encourage you to do so. You can find out more information about the things we can help with during your visit on my website here: http://denham.house.gov/serving-you/visit-washington-dc.
Next week the House will be back in Washington and we’re bringing to the floor legislation I’ve co-sponsored, H.R. 803, the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which streamlines many of the overlapping job training programs and eliminates unnecessary red tape so state and local resources go directly to helping job seekers. I hope we can all come together next week to pass this common-sense measure to help many unemployed Californians get the skills they need to get back to work.
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.