Working “For The People”
In the November 2018 election, the American people demanded that their representatives in Washington fight for them and for what affects their lives on a day-to-day basis. They entrusted us to draft and pass legislation to do such vital things as protecting their healthcare, lowering their drug prices, guarding their right to vote, and making government accountable to them. Leaders in the House have introduced important legislation on these issues and more. Unfortunately, many of these measures have not even been taken up by the Senate. In the section below, I have outlined some of the House’s priorities.
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Working to Protect our Democracy:
The first bill introduced in the 116th Congress was H.R. 1, the “For the People” Act. The legislation, which passed the House in March 2019 and currently awaits Senate action, will:
- Make it easier, not harder, to vote by: implementing automatic voter registration, requiring early voting and vote by mail, committing Congress to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, and ensuring the integrity of our elections by modernizing and strengthening our voting systems and ending partisan redistricting.
- Reform big money politics by: requiring all political organizations to disclose large donors, updating political advertisement laws for the digital age, establishing a public matching system for citizen-owned elections, and revamping the Federal Election Commission to ensure there’s a cop on the campaign finance beat.
- Strengthen ethics laws by: ensuring that public officials work in the public interest, extending conflict of interest laws to the President and Vice President, requiring the release of their tax returns, closing loopholes that allow former members of Congress to avoid cooling-off periods for lobbying, breaking the revolving door between industry and the federal government, and establishing a code of conduct for the Supreme Court.
The bill also included the Executive Branch Conflicts of Interest Act, which I introduced to ban senior officials from accepting “golden parachute” payments from private sector employers in exchange for their government service. It also included the bicameral Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act, which I introduced along with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper to enhance the ethics requirements that govern presidential transitions.
And in June 2019, the House built on H.R. 1 and passed the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act to ensure that foreign adversaries cannot take advantage of our aging and outdated voting systems. Neither H.R. 1 or the SAFE Act have been brought up for consideration in the Senate.
Protecting our Healthcare:
In 2010, I cast the most important vote in my career in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). With its passage, we enshrined into law the promise that all Americans have the right to accessible, affordable health insurance coverage in this country.
In May 2019, the House acted to protect the legacy of the ACA when we passed H.R. 986, the Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Act, and H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, two pieces of legislation to shore up protections for people with pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug prices, and crackdown on junk health insurance plans. Unfortunately, both of these measures await action in the Senate.
Working to End Gun Violence:
I'm truly heartbroken for the families and communities who have suffered at the hands of gun violence. I have heard from my constituents who are begging for more than thoughts and prayers. They want action, and they want it now.
That is why I cosponsored H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for firearm transfers between private parties. In February 2019, this important bill passed the House. I call on the Senate to take it up and immediately consider the measure, and for the President then to sign it into law.
Working to Ensure Everyone Gets a Fair Shot:
Economic inequality has reached a point we have not seen since the 1920s, making it more difficult for hardworking Americans to get ahead. I am committed to helping families by giving them the tools they need to succeed and enact policies that will expand job creation.
I was honored to cosponsor H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require employers to prove there are legitimate, job-related reasons for any pay disparities that exist and are not based on gender alone; ban retaliation against workers discussing their wages; remove obstacles in the Equal Pay Act to allow workers to participate in class action lawsuits that challenge systemic pay discrimination; and improve the Department of Labor’s tools for enforcing the Equal Pay Act. I was honored to help pass this bill in the House in March 2019; however, the Senate has yet to even consider the measure.
I am proud to have been an original cosponsor of H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act of 2019, to correct the 40 years of wage stagnation for the federal minimum wage by gradually lifting it from $7.25 to $15 over the next 6 years. In 2017, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15 would increase wages for approximately 40 million people. This change would be an important step toward lifting a large segment of society out of poverty and creating opportunities for their children to see a brighter future. This bill passed the House in July 2019 and awaits Senate consideration.
Working to Ensure Equality For all Americans:
In 1964, our nation’s leaders took an extraordinary step toward building a more perfect union for all Americans by passing the Civil Rights Act. The law banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, and national origin and ended racial segregation at schools and in the workplace. It was a spark of hope for millions of Americans who had long been oppressed, and a spark of action that would lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act a year later.
However, LGBTQ Americans still face discrimination in employment, housing, and education in parts of the country to this day. In May of 2019, the House built upon the proud legacy of the Civil Rights Act when we passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act, to ensure that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters receive full civil rights protections. The Senate has yet to consider this vital piece of legislation.
Protecting Our Environment:
At the beginning of the 116th Congress, I cosponsored, H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, a bill that would keep federal funds from going to any action regarding the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It also requires the President to create a plan for the United States to meet the pollution reduction goals submitted to the world United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015. This bill passed the House in May 2019 and now awaits Senate action.
Working to Fix our Immigration System:
After the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017, it became crucial that Congress secure protections for DREAMers. In March 2019, I cosponsored H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, to grant DREAMers conditional permanent resident status for 10 years if they meet certain conditions. The legislation also includes a path to citizenship for DREAMers and would allow DREAMers to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status by getting a degree, serving in the military, or by having a job. The bill would expand educational opportunities for DREAMers and make it easier for them to obtain in-state tuition. The House passed the bill in June 2019, and now we wait for the Senate to act.