Rep. Chu has introduced several pieces of legislation in the 112th Congress that will help small businesses succeed, promote strong education for our children and help prepare them for the future, protect immigrant workers, and stand up for civil rights.
I have introduced bills in the following areas:
Helping Small Businesses Succeed
Promoting Equal Access to Quality Education
Fighting for Immigration and Labor Rights
Promoting and Protecting Civil Rights
Cleaning up our Polluted Water
Crime and Public Safety
Entrepreneur Startup Growth Act (HR 3571):
Today, 1 out of every 3 new jobs is created by self-employed startup businesses. Self-employed startups in their first year of existence create an average of 3 million jobs per year. In fact, without business startups, there would be no net job growth in the U.S. economy. Nearly all net job creation since 1980 has occurred in self-employed startups less than five years old.
But recent news suggests that compared to other wealthy countries, the U.S. ranks 23rd in new businesses formed per thousand working adults. Entrepreneurs take risks to make it on their own, but they could do better if we help them be competitive. That is why I introduced The Entrepreneur Startup Growth Act.
One of the most intimidating times of the year for new business owners is tax season as they learn and navigate the different tax standards for business. My bill turns this tough time into an opportunity by offering not only affordable business tax assistance, but business development services so that these companies can get the advice they need to grow.
This bill builds on the Self-Employment Tax Initiative launched by CFED, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit economic opportunity organization. The Entrepreneur Startup Growth Act allows community-based organizations, local governments and higher education institutions to apply for grants up to $75,000 to operate this program. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) will work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure that the operators of the program have expertise in both tax assistance and business development assistance.
The Entrepreneur Start-Up Growth Act will help businesses grow, help low-income households build the assets that they need to survive, and get the economic security they desire. With this, we will be able to help people climb up that ladder of opportunity and reach for the American Dream.
The DIPLOMA Act (HR 2637):
Across the country, many of our students face insurmountable barriers to learning. Barriers such as language proficiency, hunger, local crime or homelessness prevent them from achieving academic success. A recent study from Chicago found significant social and economic disadvantages at school diminish the work and resources invested to improve teaching and learning. In order to meet the challenges, the researchers recommended a comprehensive solution that includes the community, the school and related social-service programs to provide wrap-around services for these struggling students.
That’s why the DIPLOMA Act is so necessary. It allows states to award grants to local groups that coordinate, integrate and facilitate these types of services aimed at strengthening student achievement. The funds can be used for dropout prevention, family engagement, tutoring, extending learning services, health care and social support. The bill contains strong accountability measures, including independent evaluations to measure the results of grant recipients and identify best practices. It builds on successful community school efforts already underway in many areas across the nation.
The Education for Tomorrow’s Job Act (HR 3154):
Our nation’s high schools are not working for large numbers of young people. Students feel bored, unchallenged, or unclear about the relevance of school. We have failed to address the most basic question students ask - “Why do I need to learn this?” The Education for Tomorrow’s Job Act will allow communities to take part in innovative strategies to help ensure all students have both the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers and that every student lives up to the fullest extent of their individual potential.
The Education for Tomorrow’s Job Act is the solution that provides school districts with flexibility to implement proven strategies to integrate academic and real world experience. The bill combines college ready academics with career and technical education, work-based learning, and supplemental services to add greater meaning and rigor to learning. By showing students the connection between school and the outside world through partnerships in high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand industries such as engineering or digital media, we can increase high school graduation rates, raise college attendance rates, and improve labor market outcomes for participating students.
The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act of 2011 (HR 2617):
Many teen parents, especially girls, drop out of school because they do not receive the support they need. Communities of color and low-income teen parents are more susceptible. High dropout rates threaten to lock these families in a cycle of poverty. By providing teen parents with the tools and support they need to succeed, we help them and their children enjoy lives that are more successful.
The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act is the solution that establishes a $100 million grant program to school districts to establish or enhance educational programs and provide necessary support resources for teen parents to finish school. Schools connect teen parents to tutoring, child care, family planning services for subsequent pregnancy prevention, and academic counseling to help them stay in school and succeed.
The Equal Access to Quality Education Act of 2011 (HR 2902):
Many schools with minority students lack the resources and staff to provide them with equal education opportunities. A recent report by the Department of Education found that schools with mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have teachers with only one or two years of experience compared to predominately-white schools in the very same school district. Congress must address these inequalities of quality educational opportunities to fix our educational system.
The Equal Access to Quality Education Act is a solution that establishes a grant program to create a partnership between high-need schools and local colleges to provide resources for teacher preparation programs. The bill seeks to invest in programs that help develop teachers in high-need minority communities in order to provide more quality educators while decreasing the high-turnover rates for these schools. These programs would provide educators with the knowledge base and skills to meet the needs of diverse learners including English language learners and students with disabilities.
Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act (HR 2169):
Immigrant workers across this country face a unique threat: If their employer mistreats them and they fight for their workplace rights, that employer may hold their immigration status against them and threaten to contact immigration authorities in retaliation. However, the law is clear - all workers, regardless of their immigration status, are protected by federal and state labor and employment laws. We must hold employers who break the law accountable for their actions.
To bring lawbreakers to justice for crimes against immigrants, current law allows victims to receive a temporary U Visa. The U visa lets noncitizen victims assist government officials in investigating or prosecuting the crime. The problem is current law does not do enough to protect victims of labor violations. That’s where my bill, the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation – or POWER – Act comes in.
It allows for temporary lawful status with employment authorization to workers who have filed a workplace claim or are material witnesses in any pending or anticipated workplace claim. A federal, state, or local official must certify that an investigation or prosecution would be harmed without the assistance of the immigrant, and no more than 10,000 of these U visas can be provided each year.
Resolution Expressing Regret for the Chinese Exclusion Laws (H. Res 282)
Congress passed numerous laws to restrict Chinese Americans, starting from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to stop the Chinese with immigrating, from ever becoming naturalized citizens and ever having the right to vote. This was the first and only time that a group of people was excluded from the promises of American freedom and democracy just because of their race.
H Res 282 expresses regret for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Laws and reaffirms Congress’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans. The Senate passed a similar resolution, S. Res. 201, on October 6, 2011.
This resolution is ciritical because by discriminating on the basis of race, the Chinese Exclusion Laws violated fundamental American civil rights, including the right of persons in the United States, to equal protection of the laws and kept them out of participating in the political process because they could not vote.
Although these laws were repealed in 1943 as a war measure to get China to be our ally during World War II, Congress has never expressly acknowledged that the anti-Chinese laws violated fundamental civil rights. By acting now and passing H Res 282, the House can make amends during the lifetimes of the last living generation that were directly subjected to the Chinese Exclusion Laws.
Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (H.Res 243):
As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Rep. Chu introduced a resolution recognizing the month of May 2011 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and as an important time to celebrate the significant contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to our nation’s history. The resolution notes that AAPIs are now the fastest growing racial group in the country, acknowledges historic challenges the community has faced, and highlights trailblazers and notable American figures of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. The resolution also recognizes that AAPIs enhance the rich diversity of the United States and strengthen our nation.
Extend Operations and Maintenance for the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Fund (HR 3132)
Ensuring the residents of the San Gabriel Valley have a clean and reliable water supply for future generations to come is a top priority of mine. Although California has experienced record rainfall and significant snowpack in the upper basin of the Colorado River this year, we cannot take anything for granted and must continue to find ways to conserve water and be water wise to ensure our local communities continue to have a safe and reliable water supply.
Back in 1979, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and perchlorates, including suspected carcinogens, were discovered in a natural underground drinking water basin known as San Gabriel basin, which threatened to jeopardize the drinking water supply of 1.4 million people in L.A. County.
A big part of the solution has been the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Fund operated by the Water Quality Authority (WQA). The Restoration Fund has truly been a success story, a model that can be followed by other water projects. It has removed nearly 21 tons of contaminants from the groundwater basin, and has treated nearly 350,000 acre-feet of groundwater. That’s more than 50 percent of the total clean-up efforts since the contamination was discovered! Not only that, this project has also created 2,700 highly skilled jobs for our local residents.
However, authorization for the fund is about to expire, threatening water cleanup efforts. That’s why I introduced HR 3132 to provide an additional 5 years to operate and maintain any clean up project constructed under the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Fund. Roughly $70 million in federal funding remains available under the authorization, and we need the flexibility and additional time for the clean-up efforts.
The Preserving Foreign Criminal Assets for Forfeiture Act of 2010 (H.R. 6487)
Rep. Chu is concerned about the impact of the violence from the drug cartels in Mexico has on our communities. That’s why she introduced the Preserving Foreign Criminal Assets for Forfeiture Act last Congress, which was signed into law on December 22, 2010.
In 2009, Bobby Salcedo, a rising star in the El Monte community and the Vice Principal of El Monte High School, was murdered in Mexico by a drug cartel even though he had no connection to the drug trade. Rep. Chu introduced HR 6487 to go after the drug cartels along our southern border and hit them where it’ll hurt the most– their pocketbooks. This law gives law enforcement new tools to seize hundreds of millions of dollars in dirty money before criminals can hide them from the police.
Before this act became law, law enforcement could only seize cartel assets in the United States after a final judgment was issued in a Mexican court. But with a Mexican conviction rate of less than 5%, we couldn't capture the majority of cartel funds here in the United States before they were hidden elsewhere. Now American courts can issue restraining orders to freeze these assets after finding evidence of criminal activity. Cartels will now feel the sting of law enforcement when we seize their money to prevent them from committing any further crimes.