Last week, I had a productive work period in the Districtmeeting with a number of groups and visiting with members of the Coast Guard, who seized more than 50,000 pounds of narcotics on their latest deployment. The first half of September was a busy one in Washingtonaddressing funding for the government and relief for storm victims. I’m back at the Capitol this week where there’s an aggressive agenda ahead.
One of my top priorities is national security and safeguarding the United States from all threats domestic and foreign. Kim Jong-un continues to test and expand North Korea’s nuclear missile program, and solidify North Korea’s status as a direct existential threat to our country. These tests have been met with tough economic sanctions ordered by President Trump that are designed to halt the development of North Korean nuclear warheads. China seems willing to comply with the sanctions and it has been reported that China’s central bank has told banks in China to stop doing business with North Korea. It is my hope that tightening the economic screws will aid in President Trump’s ability to completely denuclearize North Korea, however, should history be any indication, I remain extremely skeptical that sanctions alone will deter Kim Jong-un.
With Naval readiness hindered by two separate collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain, two destroyers enabled with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, the United States is left in a vulnerable position in the Pacific. In addition, Kim Jong-un released a statement in response to the economic sanctions vowing to make “the U.S. pay dearly” and stating that he “ will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Considering past actions taken by Kim Jong-un against his own flesh and blood, his threats should be taken seriously and may necessitate the use of force.
After Attorney General Sessions announced a wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy earlier this month, there have been significant discussions about how DACA recipients will be addressed. DACA began in 2012 under the Obama Administration and granted relief from deportation to certain individuals without lawful immigration status who were brought to the United States as children. This action was taken without authority from Congress. Under the Trump Administration’s updated policy, no new DACA requests can be submitted and no new renewal requests can be submitted after October 5.
I met with DACA recipients in my office in El Cajon, and I appreciate the many contributions they have made to our country, as well as their desire to stay in a country that many of them spent most of their lives in. While some of my colleagues have proposed legislation that will grant DACA recipients permanent resident status without making any further immigration reforms, I believe such a move is a mistake. To permanently address our immigration challenges, we need a strong border and reliable enforcement of our immigration laws. This includes legislation that will mandate e-verify and reform our visa allocation system. It also means investing the necessary resources to build strong infrastructure along our border. Without those serious reforms being achieved, I am unable to support legislation to address DACA. I wrote to the President to explain my position; you can read my letter here.
The Coast Guard
Last week in San Diego, I had the opportunity to witness the offloading of more than 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin worth more than $679 million from the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton. The drugs, which were seized during multiple interdictions in the Eastern Pacific, were bound for our country. This success represents more than just keeping drugs out of our countrythe routes used to smuggle drugs can be used to smuggle weapons and people, which is why it is so important for the Coast Guard to be a successful line of defense.
In my capacity as Chairman of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee, I’ve gotten to know the men and women of the Coast Guard, and I have been consistently impressed by their professionalism and capability. Threats like the ones the Stratton confronts demonstrate why investments in the Coast Guard are so important, and why my subcommittee will continue to work with the Coast Guard to ensure it has the resources and authorities it needs. Watch the video here.
Another issue that took center stage last week was government funding for FY 2018, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018. This legislation provides funding for critical federal programs that Americans rely on every day while, at the same time, reducing wasteful spending. Bottom line is that, while I believe there is much more to do, we are heading in the right direction with this funding bill. For a more detailed breakdown, the House Budget and Appropriations Committees have a number of resources. The legislation is currently before the Senate.
Gang Violence Crack Down
Further, the House continued to take steps to strengthen our nation's immigration laws by passing the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act. This bill cracks down on gang violence by specifically prohibiting gang members from coming to the United States and detaining and removing them if they make their way to the United States to participate in gang activity. Under current law, membership in a criminal street gang does not make an immigrant inadmissible or deportable - and this bill changes that. These transnational gangs pose a direct threat to public safety, and Congress is working to protect the American people by making our immigration laws tougher and giving our border security agents the tools to enforce them.
For the first time in many years we have the opportunity to restructure our overly complicated tax system to better serve hard-working Americans, make it competitive and incentivize companies to stay in our country and create jobs. Today, American companies face the highest corporate tax rates in the world. The effort of some American companies to restructure abroad in order to lower their tax burden is truly troubling and is a symptom of our broken tax code.
I believe that one of my primary responsibilities as your representative in Congress is to look for ways to lessen the burden which the federal government places on the taxpayer. By pursuing efforts like this, that reform and lower taxes, Congress can take a big step toward making the tax code more fair and equitable for all working Americans.
As Congress begins the process of drafting legislation to reform our broken tax code, I want to hear your priorities on how Congress can write a tax code that best serves you.
Military Nomination Applications
Each year I have the privilege of nominating a limited number of candidates of the 50th District to four of the five U.S. Service Academies. Applications for a service academy nomination for this year are due by October 31st. For more information on Military Academy Nominations, please contact Angelica Rodriguez in my El Cajon, CA office at 619-448-5201 or by email at Angelica.Rodriguez@mail.house.gov.
In the meantime
Hearing from my constituents is crucial to my ability to represent our District in Congress. My positions on legislation are based on the effect such policies will have on California’s 50th District and the future of our country as a whole, regardless of which party occupies the White House. Especially right now while our country is facing a number of major decisions, it is important for me to hear your views on how the laws passed in Washington will affect families in California. I hope that you will take the time to let me know about the issues that are important to you and your family.