|I. STATE OF THE UNION RESPONSE
Earlier this week, the President reminded us that a unified America can overcome any challenge and that a top priority of the government should be increasing the prosperity of our country by focusing on the middle class. By working together we can find a balanced approach to reducing our debt and make investments in education, infrastructure, and manufacturing sectors. Congress needs to work with the President to avoid a government shutdown and replace the sequester with a balanced approach to debt reduction. This will create certainty in our economy and protect thousands of middle class jobs.
Like many of my colleagues, I invited the family of a gun violence victim to attend the State of the Union address. I was honored to have Rose and Willie Earl Jones whose son, Willie James Jones, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1994 attend Tuesday’s speech. Willie was his high school’s valedictorian and was about to attend Cornell University on a full academic scholarship when his life was tragically cut short by senseless gun violence.
II. COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
I knew Willie through my work with the Aaron Price Fellows Program and still remember taking his class to DC and sitting in the House gallery. Having his parents in the House chamber gave a voice to the many young Americans who never had a chance to fulfill their dreams. Willie’s parents are still a strong voice for San Diego families as violence continues 20 years later. Addressing gun violence in our country is as critical now as it was when Willie was killed.
I will be serving on two committees in the 113th Congress - Education and the Workforce Committee and the Armed Services Committee. In the Armed Services Committee, I will continue to serve as the Ranking Member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee. I will also serve on the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats, and Capabilities. Click here for more information about the House Armed Services Committee.
In the Education and the Workforce Committee, I will serve on two subcommittees, the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee. Click here for more information on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
III. LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN THE 113TH CONGRESS
I believe that my committee assignments match the needs of the 53rd Congressional District, and I look forward to bringing the diverse interests of my constituents to the halls of Congress.
Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act
Last month, I re-introduced the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 376), which would end restrictions many states impose on a person’s ability to vote by absentee ballot. Currently, 21 states restrict an eligible voter’s ability to vote by mail. The other states, including California, offer no-excuse absentee voting to the great satisfaction of many voters and elections officials. My bill would prohibit states from limiting absentee voting to certain voters and would allow all eligible voters nationwide to vote by mail for any reason in federal elections.
Juror Non-Discrimination Act
The federal government currently prohibits juror discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and economic status. Unfortunately, this protection is not extended to LGBT Americans. That is why I recently introduced legislation to prohibit a person from being removed from a jury because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe it is unjust to exclude people from participating in civil society because of identity characteristics. The Juror Non-Discrimination Act was introduced with 14 original cosponsors.
Diverse Teachers Act
IV. LEGISLATION COSPONSORED IN THE 113TH CONGRESS
A more diverse teaching force will enhance our education system and the learning experience of students. Yet, teachers of color make up just 17 percent of the teaching force. What's more— fewer than 2 percent of teachers are African American males. Addressing this disparity is important for closing the achievement gap for underperforming students. That's why I introduced the Diverse Teachers Act, which would support recruiting teachers from underrepresented groups into the classrooms.
Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Citizens United
I recently joined more than two dozen of my colleagues in introducing a constitutional amendment to override the Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns. The amendment is necessary to restore accountability in our political process. We have a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and the law should reflect as such. The integrity of our democracy is at stake when corporations can drown out the voices of the people in our elections.
Paycheck Fairness Act
I was proud to be an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377) when it was introduced on January 23. Pay discrimination in the workplace is real and present at all levels of education and in various occupations. H.R. 377 would ensure that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not sex-based, but job related and necessary. This legislation would also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who discuss or disclose salary information with their co-workers. People deserve to know where they stand and have the ability to stop discrimination.
Clean Water Protection Act
V. LAW ENFORCEMENT ROUNDTABLE
I will be an original cosponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act once it is reintroduced in the 113th Congress. I believe we must do more to prevent pollution and runoff from contaminating our nation’s rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies.
VI. FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
Last month, I sat down with law enforcement officials from San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s office. During our conversation, we talked about the need to reduce access to high-capacity magazines, require background checks for all gun purchases, fund for buyback programs, and increase access to mental health services programs for those in need. As anti-gun violence legislation makes its way through Congress, I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders in the region to make sure our federal policies effectively address the tragic cycle of gun violence found in many of our communities.
Our ability to overcome the challenges of life is often based on our support system. I recently spoke at a press conference on the 20th anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which has allowed millions of Americans to take time off for the birth of a child, or care for a sick loved one, without fear of losing their job. While more work should be done to help families balance life and work, FMLA gives many Americans the time and protection to care for others and themselves.
VII. VISIT TO CAMP PENDLETON TRANSITION PROGRAM
Last month, I visited Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to meet with Marine Corps leadership and speak with Marines about the challenges they face, especially as they transition out of the military. While aboard Camp Pendleton, I joined Brigadier General Vincent Coglianese and spoke to a group of Marines who are learning ways to translate their job and skills from the Marine Corps into the civilian workforce.
One of my top concerns is how well each military service prepares departing service members for their transition to civilian life. While the military services are trying hard to effectively provide transition resources to service members, I know this is an issue that will require significant congressional oversight. That is why I will continue to use my committee positions to be a strong advocate for men and women in uniform and their families.
VIII. NAVY'S DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, I work closely with my colleagues to meet the needs of our service members and their families. That is why I was truly honored to receive the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy. It was a surprise, but also a reminder that we have more work to do when it comes to taking care of our men and women in uniform.
IX. PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
Last month, dozens of lucky constituents came to my Washington, D.C. office to collect the Inauguration tickets they won in my random lottery. I really enjoyed meeting the many residents of the 53rd District who traveled from San Diego County to brave the cold and the crowds. It was a wonderful day and everyone was excited to be part of such a special moment in our nation’s history.
X. PASSPORT DAY IN THE USA
Please join me on Saturday, March 9, 2013 in celebrating Passport Day in the USA. Passport Agency offices, including our local San Diego Passport Agency, will be welcoming walk-ins to apply for their new or renewal passport books and passport cards. This is a great opportunity to acquire your passport or passport card for your future international travels. For passport information, fees, and forms, please visit www.travel.state.gov.
San Diego Passport Agency
401 West A Street, Suite 1000
San Diego, CA 92101
Open: 10 AM to 3 PM
XI. NEW 53RD BOUNDARIES & DISTRICT STAFF CONTACTS
New Congressional districts took effect on January 3, 2013. The new 53rd Congressional District now includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, Bonita, and part of the cities of San Diego, El Cajon, and Chula Vista. More information on new Congressional districts can be found on the San Diego County Registrar of Voters’ website, www.sdvote.com.
Since I often get questions about my new district, I wanted to introduce you to my district outreach staff and the communities they cover for my office. My staff can be reached at 619-280-5353.
Jessica Poole- District Director
Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, La Presa.
Daniel Hazard- Field Director
La Mesa, Kensington, Talmadge, Normal Heights, and Casa de Oro-Mount Helix.
Deanneka Goodwin- Community Representative
Old Town, College, Redwood Village, Rolando, Bonita.
Gavin Deeb- Community Representative
Linda Vista, Midtown, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill/Park West, University Heights, North Park, Balboa Park, South Park, Golden Hill, El Cajon.
Jonathan Hardy- Community Representative
Mission Valley, Birdland, Serra Mesa, Grantville, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, San Carlos, Lake Murray, Chula Vista.
Brandon Primus- Staff Assistant
Hillcrest, Skyline, Paradise Hills, Bay Terraces, Lomita, Jamacha.
Margret Hernandez- San Diego Scheduler
XII. FACEBOOK SIGNUP
With so many new people in the 53rd District, I am encouraging all of my constituents to follow me on Facebook. My Facebook page is an opportunity for constituents to engage with me on a daily basis. If someone is interested in following what’s happening in Congress, where I am in the district, or who I am meeting with, then liking my Facebook page would be a valuable resource for them. Click here to “Like” my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!
XIII. INTERESTED IN AN INTERNSHIP?
My office is currently accepting internship applications on a rolling basis for fall, spring, and summer sessions. Interns assist with constituent inquiries, public events, casework, and other special projects. Internship candidates should be prepared to work a minimum of 10 hours per week. If you are interested in interning in the San Diego office, contact Brandon Primus at Brandon.Primus@mail.house.gov and provide a cover letter, resume, and three references. If you are interested in an internship in our Washington office, please submit this information to Brit Moller at Brit.Moller@mail.house.gov.