Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - September 20, 2013

Dear Friend,

I hope you took a few moments to celebrate Constitution Day on Tuesday and revisit the document that serves not only as the foundation of our legal system but also a model for other emerging democracies around the world. You can view the Constitution online here.

Speaking of Constitution Day, I watched a video this week of a Modesto Junior College (MJC) student named Robert who was on his campus on Tuesday distributing free copies of the Constitution when campus police stopped him. I think MJC's actions in this situation were unfortunate. The right to free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, and Robert’s effort to hand out constitutions on Constitution Day was admirable. I hope that MJC will look into this incident to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen again.

On Thursday, I participated in marking up the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA). WRRDA will streamline water infrastructure projects, eliminate cumbersome bureaucracy that’s standing in the way of getting major water projects moving and strengthen our transportation networks. This will be the first major water reform of Corps of Engineers projects in years and will keep the United States competitive with other nations.  Working to strengthen our infrastructure and helping our economy thrive through job growth are top priorities for me.

For more information regarding how WRRDA affects you and your family, please click on the photo below to see a helpful video from the Transportation & Infrastructure committee.

Along with other members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I heard testimony from the Honorable Joan Mooney, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs for the VA at our hearing this week to discuss efforts to make the VA more transparent and ensure that the Department cooperates with Congress in meeting its oversight responsibilities on behalf of our nation’s brave veterans.

This week marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts from September 15 through October 15. To celebrate, I spoke at a GOP Meetup event about the contributions I have seen from so many in the Latino community in my district and one of the most critical issues affecting our Latino population – the need for immigration reform that fixes our broken system. Top-to-bottom immigration reform will require both parties working together on an American solution.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Cheryl Domenichelli, California’s Principal of the Year. Cheryl’s tireless work on behalf of John C. Kimball High School students is an inspiration. Countless Tracy students have benefitted from her hard work and it was an honor to meet her.

Dr. Domenichelli and I met on Thursday at my office.

I voted for the National Strategy and Critical Minerals Act of 2013, which aids in the efficient development of strategic and critical minerals, including rare earth elements. This bill streamlines the permitting process for mineral exploration and mining projects and requires coordination among agencies; eliminates duplicative analysis; requires timely filing of lawsuits to limit frivolous and expensive litigation; and sets the total permitting review process at 30 months. These minerals are essential to the production of many items that we rely on every day, including computers, light bulbs and engines. Aiding the development of critical and strategy minerals on American soil reduces our dependence on foreign sources, making us more globally competitive.

On Friday, I voted to continue funding the federal government through December 15, 2013 by supporting a continuing resolution that will now be sent to the Senate for consideration. I hope they will follow the House’s lead in taking action to give certainty to businesses and hardworking families across the country and ensuring our government keeps functioning. 

The recent Yosemite Rim Fire was a tragedy that wreaked havoc on our communities. The air quality, already poor, is worsened, the rangeland near the fire may have been sterilized by the heat, our water sources will experience contamination and run off, and our beautiful forest land will remain blackened and sparse for years to come. While no amount of money can recoup the damage and the danger of such a wildfire, we need to help our communities by removing the red-tape currently forcing them to suffer more. For this reason, I introduced an amendment with my colleagues, Reps. Tom McClintock, Kevin McCarthy and Doug LaMalfa, to expedite the removal of salvaged timber from the Yosemite Rim Fire and other 2013 wildfires.

My hope is that our amendment, which passed the House with bipartisan support, will speed up timber salvage projects on the acres burned in this tragic fire and that the timber can be used for much-needed jobs benefitting local economies throughout the state and nation. I spoke on the House floor about this important legislation; you can watch my remarks online by clicking on the photo below.

I hope to see you at our Central Valley Job Fair next Wednesday! With over 40 employers attending, the fair will be a wonderful opportunity if you are looking for work. Every employer registered for the fair is required to have positions open in order to attend. The fair will take place from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Modesto Centre Plaza.

I’m honored to serve you in Washington. I’d like to welcome you to share comments, concerns, or questions with me. To stay up to date with my work in Congress and my time in the Central Valley, please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook or visit my website. You can also spread the word about our weekly newsletter.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
 


JEFF DENHAM