Rep. Chu’s Accomplishments in the 114th Congress
PASADENA, CA – On Tuesday, September 8, the House of Representatives will meet for the first time since breaking for the August District Work Period. As the 114th Congress resumes, Rep. Judy Chu released the following list of her legislative and in-district accomplishments so far:
San Gabriel Mountains: Since the designation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in October 10, 2014, which I worked to establish with the Obama Administration, tangible benefits come to our region. In fact, as a direct result of the new designation, the Monument received an additional $3 million in federal funding for the Fiscal Year 2015 along with $3 million in philanthropic donations. This onset of additional funding resulted in the hiring of new staff such as a volunteer and partnership coordinator, trash truck driver, and field rangers. It also resulted in trash clean up along some of the most impacted areas, as well as the beginning stages of recreational site improvements at beloved places like Oak Flats Campgrounds. I am working closely with the Forest Service and advocates from the 40 plus member community collaborative to ensure that this National Monument is a success.
Veterans Clinic: I am working hard to bring a veterans health clinic to the San Gabriel Valley. For more than six years veterans in the San Gabriel Valley have been forced to make long trips to health centers outside our region in order to obtain treatment for service-connected injuries and trauma. With the help of a dedicated committee of Veterans Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and several community leaders we are making great progress towards establishing the “Veterans Health Center of the Foothills” at Pasadena City College (PCC). For the first time ever, the VA will partner with a community college to place a Veterans health center on its campus that will provide primary healthcare services, women’s healthcare services, mental health services, and wellness therapies to all our Veterans. The VA and PCC are finalizing the details while the committee is close to meeting its fundraising goal of $300,000. These funds will go towards purchasing modular units, which will house the clinic on the PCC campus.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): I fought to bring two full-service SBDCs to the San Gabriel Valley – located at Pasadena City College and the University of La Verne. SBDCs are administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in conjunction with colleges or universities, and they are considered the most effective program of the SBA. Any person who wants to start or expand their small business can get a business plan or a feasibility study. They can get help in marketing and most importantly in finding financing. These services are confidential, and most importantly they are free. Combined, these two SBDCs have provided over 1,500 hours of consulting to 370 clients, helped create 105 new jobs, and launched 14 businesses.
· CREED Act: I reintroduced the Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development Act (CREED Act). The bill will help small businesses expand their access to capital by extending the Small Business Administration’s 504 Loan Refinancing Program for five years. This allows them to refinance their real estate loans at today’s low interest rates.
· Amendment to the Small Contractors Improve Competition Act: In the Small Business Committee, I successfully passed an amendment that would help guarantee small businesses are receiving a fair share of federal subcontracts. The amendment which was offered during consideration of H.R. 1481, “The Small Contractors Improve Competition Act,” requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to look at the new federal government subcontracting reporting system and assess whether it is operating with accurate data, and that it meets the statutory requirements implemented by the Small Business Act. The amendment was adopted and the bill passed unanimously by voice vote.
· Small Business Administration’s 7(a) Loan Program: Fought to provide an increase in authorization to allow the SBA’s 7(a) loan program to operate until the end of the fiscal year. The flagship program is designed to give small businesses access to capital through long-term loans in situations where capital cannot be found through conventional bank loans. Due to an anticipated increase in lending, SBA reached the $18.75 billion legal lending limit for the 7(a) program on Thursday, July 23, and was forced to shut down. I called on House leadership to pass legislation to address the funding gap and ensure our small businesses get the resources that they need.
· Voting Rights Advancement Act: I joined House and Senate leaders such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to introduce the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) of 2015. Two years ago, the Supreme Court gutted core protections in the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. Since then, states and localities throughout the country have passed sweeping laws that disproportionately suppress the voting rights of minorities, the elderly, and the disabled. This bill would restore and advance voting protections for all Americans who want to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
· Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act: I joined leaders in the House to introduce the SAFE Justice Act, which would prioritize federal prison space for chronic and violent offenders, reduce recidivism through enhanced supervision, and increase transparency and accountability in our criminal just system. The bill would also reform our mandatory minimum structure, so that mandatory minimums are only used for high-level drug offenders and organizers of criminal activity, rather than low-level offenders who often face mandatory minimum sentences today.
· Women’s Health Protection Act: I reintroduced legislation that would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by stopping restrictive regulations and laws – such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin – intended to curtail reproductive health services for women. This legislation would prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services that have no connection to women’s health and safety.
· Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act: I successfully passed a bill to ensure effective prescription drug enforcement and the safety of patients. In April 2015, the House unanimously passed H.R. 471, a bill I introduced along with Tom Marino (R-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). This bi-partisan bill encourages collaboration between stakeholders and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ensure effective enforcement of abuse while also ensuring that patients will continue to have safe access to the drugs they need.
· Equal Access to Quality Education Act: I reintroduced the Equal Access to Quality Education Act creates public-private partnerships between high-need schools and schools of education to train, induct and retain teachers. This will allow K-12 schools with barriers to learning, such as poverty, to partner with schools of education to create a high-quality teacher pipeline. Teachers in this program would be required to attend a residency program that inducts them into the first years of teaching.
· Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA Act): I reintroduced the DIPLOMA Act which 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.
· Creative Rights Caucus: I am a founder and leader of the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, which serves to educate Members of Congress and the general public about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in the U.S. American creators of motion pictures, music, software, and other creative works rely on Congress to protect their copyrights, human rights, First Amendment rights, and property rights. The Caucus hosted events this year to inform Capitol Hill about online piracy and advertisement, and highlight the workforce in the film and television industry.
· CODE Act: I released a discussion draft of new landmark legislation designed to modernize and improve the United States Copyright Office. The draft legislation, Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or CODE Act, addresses the longstanding need for specific reforms regarding the way the U.S. Copyright Office operates. I and Tom Marino (R-PA) plan to introduce the final legislation this year.
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC): I continue to lead the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as the chair of CAPAC. CAPAC is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.
Services for my constituents
· Education Roundtable: I met with Administrators, students and trustees of the three community colleges in the 27th district to discuss the challenges schools and students face in the district. This discussion focused on the need for financial aid, how to help underserved populations of students, and the particular challenges the schools face as Minority Serving Institutions.
· Immigration Executive Action workshop: In advance of the President’s immigration actions, I hosted a workshop to prepare area immigrants who qualify for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The orientation included private one-on-one consultations in English, Spanish, Chinese Korean, and Vietnamese about how to apply, including what documents they will need and to be careful about scams.
· Workshop offering free tax help to low income families: In cooperation with California State Controller Betty Yee, I hosted an event offering free tax preparation to individuals in households earning $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English language speakers.
· Scam Prevention workshop: In order to help keep constituents safe, I and Assemblymember Ed Chau hosted a workshop on scam prevention with speakers from the Arcadia Police Department, California Senior Medicare Patrol, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs, and the United States Secret Service. The workshop provided constituents with knowledge about how to spot different types of scams and proper prevention techniques.
· Grant writing workshop: Along with South Pasadena Mayor Bob Joe, I hosted representatives from the U.S. Department of House and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Education to share tips and best practices for grant applications so that area cities, school districts, non-profits, and other applicants will have the best chance possible at receiving Federal grants.
· Small Business Tour and Roundtable: I hosted Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet in the district where we toured a local small business and held a roundtable with local entrepreneurs to discuss the role the Federal Government can play in supporting small businesses, particularly minority, women and veteran small businesses.
· Casework to help constituents with problems ranging from immigration to social security. In 2015 alone, I have been contacted by over 278 constituents for assistance with issues ranging from needing help getting their tax return from the IRS, obtaining benefits from the Social Security Administration or Department of Veteran Affairs, getting their passports on time for travel and much more. My staff and I are working hard to assist and resolve issues for our constituents.