Accomplishments in Congress
John Garamendi delivers tangible results for Americans across the country and our community. Here are some highlights:
- Passing Legislation: 66 bills he has cosponsored have been signed into law.
- Veterans: Thanks to the advocacy of Congressman Garamendi and his staff, more than $9.1 million in benefits earned by district veterans have been returned to them. Local veteran service providers know to call the Congressman’s office if they encounter a veteran facing unacceptable bureaucratic delays.
- National Defense: Congressman Garamendi serves on the Conference Committee responsible for authoring the National Defense Authorization Act. In this role, he has helped protect the missions at Travis and Beale Air Force bases and has been an advocate for servicemembers. He even stopped the early deactivation of the 13th Reconnaissance Squadron and Global Hawk mission at Beale Air Force Base. He has secured new health care resources for veterans, protected military families from unhealthy living conditions in privatized military housing, and empowered the military to address the effects of climate change.
- Make It In In America: Congressman Garamendi is a leader in the Make It In America movement to revitalize American manufacturing and to create more American jobs in manufacturing, research, construction, and equipment maintenance. After a multi-year effort, he succeeded in increasing America’s Buy America requirement from 60% to 70% for all rail cars and buses purchased with federal taxpayer dollars. He also succeeded in passing a five-year extension of the wind and solar tax credits necessary to grow America’s clean energy manufacturing sector.
- Farm Bill: On the Conference Committee responsible for finalizing the Farm Bill, Garamendi was a forceful advocate for Northern California farmers.
- The Farm-to-Fork Movement: Garamendi led the effort to stop a local school district from purchasing canned peaches in China, when plenty of local farmers provide local options with stronger food safety standards.
- Flood Safety: Serving on the Conference Committee for the Water Resources and Reform Development Act, Garamendi provided direct financial support to essential flood protection projects, like the Marysville Ring Levee and levees along the Feather River. He was also a major advocate for the Hamilton City J Levee.
- Oil-by-Rail Safety: Garamendi's leadership ensured that the Administration is pursuing a national volatility standard to reduce the explosive nature of Bakken crude oil transported by rail. He has persistently lent his voice to efforts to stop oil-by-rail trains from traveling through the 8th District, which is especially important in our region given how many population
- A More Reliable Water Supply: Working with his Republican colleague Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Congressman Garamendi continues to help Sites Reservoir in Colusa County clear all federal hurdles. Thanks to the work of Congressmen Garamendi and LaMalfa, the Bureau of Land Management is expected to release its analysis of the project next year.
- GPS Backup: Americans don’t realize how dependent their everyday lives are on GPS, and it’s a system vulnerable to hackers and terrorists. Garamendi authored legislation that passed the House to establish a GPS backup system known as eLoran.
- Protecting Religious Freedom: With Garamendi’s help, a Sikh man from Marysville was allowed to maintain his religious attire while serving in the U.S. Army.
- Hate Crimes Tracking: After Garamendi lobbied the Department of Justice for a change in policy, the FBI began tracking hate crimes targeting Sikhs, Hindus, and Arab Americans. This data will help us better understand and respond to hate-based violence.
Congressman John Garamendi is focused on growing the middle class. He is the leading voice in Congress for “Make It In America” policies that will help bring manufacturing jobs back to America. In Congress, he has successfully:
- Increased the Buy America requirement for buses and rail from 60% to 70%
- Stopped school districts from procuring canned foods from China when local produce is available
- Ensured a five-year extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit and Solar Investment Tax Credit in order to incentivize the wind and solar manufacturing sectors to continue manufacturing in America.
As a member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Garamendi is focused on increasing American shipbuilding.
Congressman Garamendi is also a strong advocate for infrastructure investment. He believes that America’s roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, levees, and transit systems need much more attention from Washington.
He also supports:
- Policies to improve vocational training in our high schools and community colleges
- Partnerships between businesses, schools, and labor apprenticeship programs to cultivate a highly skilled workforce
- Streamlining duplicative and wasteful certifications for well-qualified veterans entering the civilian job market
Under the Affordable Care Act, we have seen America’s uninsured rate fall to the lowest levels in U.S. history. Millions of Americans now have access to quality health care. Seniors now have access to a free annual wellness check up to identify health problems early, and the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole will completely close by 2020, helping seniors afford life saving medications.
However, every law can be improved, and Congressman Garamendi wants to make America’s health care delivery system as effective as it can be. He supports:
- Additional incentives to keep hospitals and community clinics in rural and underserved communities
- Lower prescription drug costs in Medicare through the importation of drugs from countries with rigorous safety standards and by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, making Medicare more solvent
- Increased enforcement of laws that crack down on medical fraud in public and private insurance
- Faster student loan forgiveness for primary care physicians willing to work in community clinics and underserved communities
- Implementing a national public option to increase competition and expand insurance opportunities in every community
In the halls of Congress and throughout his career, Congressman Garamendi has been a fierce advocate for students and teachers, believing that America's prosperity depends on a well-educated workforce.
Garamendi has consistently spoken out against destructive cuts to all levels of education. Garamendi understands that laying off teachers means less individual attention to students, larger class sizes, more students dropping out of school, and ultimately a less competitive workforce.
Congressman Garamendi’s Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculating Act would lower student loan interest rates for all borrowers and save students and parents money. It would lower the current interest rate of 4.29% for undergraduate borrowers, 5.84% for graduate borrowers, and 6.84% for parent and graduate PLUS loan borrowers to 3.23% for all borrowers. Support is growing for this important legislation, with endorsements from the California State Student Association, California Democratic Party, and California Young Democrats.
Garamendi has also hosted a series of events in the district focused on encouraging young women and students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue high paying careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Garamendi supports federal investments in STEM education.
Congressman Garamendi is a reliable voice for education. He supports federal action to lower class sizes and to preserve after school programs and arts, music, and sports programs.
While serving as a UC Regent and CSU Trustee as California’s Lieutenant Governor, Garamendi voted against every tuition increase.
America must take the climate crisis seriously. Congressman Garamendi is a passionate advocate for investments in clean energy, building weatherization, public transit, and biking amenities, because these are the key ways we can lower our carbon footprint.
Stop the tunnels, save the Delta. Garamendi is especially concerned about the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Farmers, fishermen, and communities depend on a healthy Delta, and the $15 billion twin tunnels boondoggle would be capable of draining the Delta dry six months a year. Garamendi helped lead the fight against the peripheral canal in 1982, and he’s leading the fight against the twin tunnels today.
Garamendi is also pushing the Administration to release strong standards for the transportation of Bakken crude oil. There is currently no meaningful national volatility standard, and it jeopardizes the health and safety of millions of Americans, including residents of the 8th District.
Ultimately, a healthy environment is a national security priority. Unhealthy air and water harms public health and public safety.
As a rancher and pear farmer, Congressman Garamendi understands the concerns of the 8th District’s agriculturalists. He served on the Conference Committee when Congress passed the bipartisan Farm Bill, ensuring that California’s needs were met. That five-year Farm Bill included:
- The Specialty Crop Research Initiative, authorized for $800 million in funding, with a designation of funds to assist with research on citrus disease;
- The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which received a funding increase up from $55 million to $72.5 million;
- The Organic Research and Extension Initiative, which authorized $100 million in funding for an organic check-off program. This funding has enabled the USDA to fund research and promotion program for organic products;
- The creation of a Research Foundation with $200 million in mandatory funding to be matched with non-federal dollars;
- Maintaining funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program while creating a pilot program to allow elementary schools to purchase fresh, frozen, canned and dried produce;
- The creation of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) for the USDA to work directly with third parties and producers in watershed and other critical conservation areas. The Secretary will be able to name up to 8 RCPPs;
- The Managers Statement, which includes language encouraging the USDA to work with olive oil industry officials to determine if a marketing order for olive oil would ease industry concerns about quality. While this is not a permanent resolution of the issue, it is a step in the right direction towards ensuring U.S. olive oil is recognized for its high quality in the market place;
- Providing $50 million to fund Section 2501’s Program for Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and expansion of programs to include veteran farmers and ranchers;
- Establishment of a USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison to aid veteran farmers and ranchers;
- Establishment of an Office of Tribal Relations to advise the Secretary on policies related to Indian tribes;
- Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops; and
- The Market Access Program funding, which is maintained at $200 million per year.
To ensure a reliable water supply for Northern California farmers and communities and to protect the Delta from further encroachment, Garamendi is working across the aisle to help the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County clear federal hurdles. California needs more offstream water storage, and Sites is arguably the best location in the state to better prepare California for future drought and future flood years.
Garamendi regularly meets with his Agricultural Advisory Committee, comprised of farmers, equipment manufacturers, and agricultural researchers throughout the 8th Congressional District. He will continue to be an advocate for family farms, because they are the primary economic engine for large portions of the state.
Ever since Congressman Garamendi and his wife Patti embarked on a journey that would forever shape their lives – they two years they fought smallpox in rural Ethiopia as volunteers in the Peace Corps – Garamendi's perspective on foreign policy has been shaped by three primary principles.
- America’s moral authority as the world’s leader of free nations rests on a devotion to human rights and individual liberty for all citizens of all nations.
- Diplomacy should always be our first mission in international relations, and ultimately, is almost always the best way to resolve conflicts abroad.
- A strong and smart military is an essential safeguard for national security and an effective deterrent against those who would consider acts of aggression against peaceful nations and innocent people.
Working With Our Allies
The United States has a productive relationship with most nations of the world. We should work with our allies and free people everywhere to promote democracy, equality, opportunity, and freedom. Promoting international gender equality is a priority of Congressman Garamendi's, because we know the oppression of women sets back liberty and makes for a more dangerous more oppressive planet. We must also work stridently to promote a free press the world over, because access to the truth is an essential first step to knowing what needs to be changed.
Economic and Social Development
America should be the world’s advocate in promoting human rights throughout the world. American benevolence can have a profound impact in regions of the world suffering from starvation and disease. We know that extremism and violence thrive in the poorest regions of the world, so this is really a national security issue too. As a proud alumnus of the Peace Corps, Garamendi supports its continued presence and expansion throughout the world, and we must work with the international community to promote fair trade and a sustainable global economy.
This district is home to Travis Air Force Base, which is the largest employer in Solano County. Travis's mission will only grow in importance as the Gateway to the Pacific As the Defense Department transitions it's focus toward Asia. Whether it is delivering relief to Tsunami victims or evacuating individuals from Afghanistan, Travis is helping the world and keeping America safe.
Congressman Garamendi has used his position on the Armed Services Committee to fight for the vital missions at Travis. As the lead Democrat on the Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, he has brought nearly $1 billion in new Military Construction to the base - providing a home for new units to and platforms like the KC-46.
Garamendi has consistently voted to improve pay and benefits for servicemembers, and he’s working with the Pentagon and private sector to remove duplicitous certifications that are a waste of time and money for highly skilled and well-trained servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. He has also improved the quality of on-base housing, set new standards for safety in training, and ensured that the military is transitioning to renewable fuels.
Congressman John Garamendi believes every American deserves the right to retire with dignity. He is resolutely opposed to all efforts to privatize Social Security, dismantle Medicare, and defund Medicaid/MediCal.
Garamendi believes that one can measure the greatness of a society in how it treats its seniors. The men and women who spent decades building the foundations of America must be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve in their golden years. Garamendi has repeatedly voted for policies to help seniors.
The Patient's Bill of Rights found in the Affordable Care Act includes additional benefits in Medicare, including free preventative and wellness screenings to diagnose and treat serious health concerns early. It also ends the costly Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole by 2020 while offering immediate relief to make prescription drugs more affordable.
There’s still more work to be done, and Congressman Garamendi is urging Congress to act to improve support for seniors by:
- Allowing prescription drugs to imported from Canada and other countries with robust safety standards;
- Allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices;
- Expanding Medicare to include dental and vision coverage;
Garamendi also recently hosted seven senior center conversations throughout the 8th District, connecting seniors with service providers who can help them in areas ranging from fraud prevention to meal deliveries to transportation to health services.
Seniors - and every American who hopes to one day retire - can be confident that Congressman Garamendi stands with them.
As a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and as the Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Garamendi is using his role to improve infrastructure in our region.
Congestion on roads and railways plagues communities throughout Northern California, delaying commuters, wasting time and fuel, and adding to air and atmospheric pollution. Congressman Garamendi is a firm believer in investments in transportation infrastructure, creating good jobs for our neighbors and leaving lasting improvements that will help businesses throughout Northern California. We only get 92 cents back for every gas tax dollar we send to Washington, and Garamendi is fighting for a fairer share.
Make it in America
Congressman Garamendi is the author of the Make It In America: Airports, Highways, Trains and Transit Act, which would create American jobs by setting stronger standards for goods and equipment purchased with federal dollars for airports, highways, trains and transit.
You don’t need to look any further than the new Bay Bridge to understand the importance of Make It In America. The new Bay Bridge is the most expensive public project in California’s history, yet its steel was produced in China. American taxpayers had to pick up the tab while thousands of jobs were shipped overseas. Congressman Garamendi’s Make It In America agenda will eliminate the loopholes that allow corporations to outsource American manufacturing jobs. If transit agencies are going to use our federal taxpayer dollars, that money should be used to rebuild our manufacturing sector and create good American middle class jobs. It just makes sense.
Congressman Garamendi helped lead the fight to pass the FAST Act, a bill that provides $305 billion in funding for transportation and infrastructure funding by 2020. $23.3 billion of those funds will be used exclusively in California, and Congressman Garamendi has worked tirelessly with local stakeholders to locate projects in his district to receive FAST Act funding.
Congressman Garamendi regularly travels throughout Northern California in his duties as a Member of Congress. He knows firsthand the frustrations of commuters and travelers stuck in traffic. Congressman Garamendi has been critical of Congressional Republican efforts to slash billions of dollars from highway construction and road maintenance funds. Our region needs a Member of Congress who believes robust investments in transportation are a worthy investment.
Congressman Garamendi is a friend to the Capitol Corridor and regional bus systems. Public transportation use has skyrocketed in recent years, and Garamendi’s Make It In America Bills support continued investments in public transportation while providing new middle class job opportunities.
Bicycling and Pedestrian Access
Bicycling and walking are the healthiest and most environmentally friendly forms of transportation, and Garamendi is hard at work in Washington fighting for funds to improve bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways.
Those who have put service to our nation above all else deserve our respect, our thanks and our assurance that the doors to the future will be open to them. We must demand that education, job training, healthcare, and housing be readily available to these heroes. California is at a critical juncture, and the investments we make now in educating our people are key to our collective success in the years to come.
VA Claims Backlog
Garamendi has been appalled by the Veterans Administration claims backlog, which has forced veterans to wait many months in a queue to learn if their medical claims will be honored. At every opportunity, Garamendi has voted to reduce the claims backlog. We're not out of the woods yet, but thanks to bipartisan support on this issue, week-by-week, the claims backlog is being reduced. It's a shameful moment in our history that we must never repeat.
Job Training for Veterans
We must invest in education and job training for all Californians, and that includes our young men and women returning to civilian life from the armed forces. That's why Congressman Garamendi is working on reforming policies that force many veterans to seek duplicative and expensive civilian credentials for work they did while in the Air Force. Often, skills directly transfer, such as engine maintenance on an aircraft carrier, driving a truck, or serving as an emergency medical technician.
Near the close of the Second World War, a grateful nation awarded the sacrifice of her veterans with the most comprehensive benefits package ever conceived: the Servicemembers' Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill. Not only did it provide full tuition and expenses to any university or college, including the Ivy League, it provided a generous living allowance.
By the time it expired in 1956, more than 7.8 million veterans had benefited from either a comprehensive education or training program, and nearly 2.6 million received VA-backed home loans. It was the investment that contributed significantly to the post-war economic boom and helped establish our nation's once vibrant middle class.
Imagine the positive impact that thousands of trained and educated Californians entering our workforce can have on California's fiscal future. This commitment to education and vocational training for all Californians is the real long-term solution to California's fiscal problems and must include our veterans.
There is no better investment in our future. It prepares Californians for good paying jobs and pays off in increased revenues that can then be reinvested to improve the lives of all Californians as well as expand our education and vocational training system.
Californians have made the most significant contribution to support both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, both in numbers and in casualties. The federal government has taken our citizens and used them, and it is now time for our president and Congress to step up and honor California's response to our nation's call.
Garamendi supports an improved G.I. Bill for the 21st century. It would not match the generosity provided to the veterans of the Second World War, but would dramatically increase funding for educational benefits, including specialized trade and technical training and veterans' housing and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The Sacramento Delta is the largest estuary in the Western United States. It is home to thriving ecosystems, rich agricultural land, and is considered to be the nexus of the California water system.
Unfortunately, two massive concrete tunnels are being proposed to divert the precious Delta water supply down South. This plan wouldn't create a drop of new water for the state, would undermine senior water rights, would imperil the Delta, and would be a bad investment for the state. Instead, these tunnels would siphon water from the Delta at a rate of 15,000 cubic feet per second--a rate that would suck all of the water that runs through the Delta six months out of the year.
Congressman Garamendi is dedicated to stopping the tunnels and saving the Delta. He also believes that simply saying no is not enough, and has introduced legislation that makes vital investments in water infrastructure to protect the local species and better address the ongoing drought.
Build More Surface Storage
We must build surface storage such as the Sites Reservoir to increase the flexibility of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, and invest in groundwater storage projects. The Sites Reservoir is a proposed 1.3 million acre feet off-stream reservoir in Colusa County. If Sites Reservoir has been available last winter we would have had an additional 1 million acre feet of water in storage.
Fix the Delta Levees & Improve Water Infrastructure
For over 40 years we have ignored over 1,100 miles of Delta levees which are critical to California’s water infrastructure. Thousands of acres of some of the most fertile farmland in the country is protected by these levees, and it is vital to keep them up-to-date. Congressman Garamendi served on the bipartisan Water Resources and Development Act Conference Committee (WRDA) and worked to design a bill that authorizes flood protection projects that save lives and property and completes the much needed improvements for our Northern California's levees.
Protect Existing Water Rights
California has a long and complex water rights history starting with the Goldrush. Our water rights system is not replicated anywhere else in the country. This water rights system is crucial to Northern California Farmers, which contribute almost $3.5 billion annually to California’s economy and create 53,000 jobs. Through our water rights system, Northern California farmers are able to produce food for the world and provide a habitat for endangered salmon and over 7 million migrating waterfowl each year. Congressman Garamendi has opposed all efforts at the federal level to dismantle California’s water rights. It is vital to our local economy and ecosystems to protect California’s existing water rights system.