By Susan A. Davis
The historic new Congress is barely three months old. In the House of Representatives, we have accomplished a lot already with so much more to come.
The For the People Act — to expand voting rights, tackle corruption, and end gerrymandering — passed the House this month. I was proud that three of my signature election reform bills were included.
Two of those would expand access and improve voting by mail by ending restrictions many states have on absentee voting and by allowing voters to track their absentee ballots to ensure their vote was counted.
The third would prohibit a state’s top election official from participating in federal campaigns. How can voters be sure an election is run fairly if the official in charge has a vested interest in a certain outcome of that election?
After years of inaction and offering nothing but moments of silence, the House finally acted to end gun violence. Bipartisan legislation to expand background checks on all gun purchases passed in February. This bill is a strong first step toward keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
In the coming weeks, we will build on these efforts. Here are just a few of the issues the House will be tackling.
Minimum wage workers have not seen a raise in 10 years since the last increase to $7.25 an hour in 2009. The Education and Labor Committee, of which I am a senior member, approved a gradual hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The minimum wage would also be linked to future median wage growth to ensure its value does not once again erode over time.
The committee’s action sends the bill to the full House for a vote.
While we fight to increase the minimum wage, the issue of paycheck fairness must be addressed. We still have not achieved equal pay for equal work. The Paycheck Fairness Act will give workers the tools and resources to fight pay inequality.
When it comes to equality, we are always striving and moving toward the more perfect union aspired to in our Constitution.
I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Equality Act. This historic legislation says unequivocally that LGBTQ Americans deserve the full protections guaranteed by the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equality Act extends anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans with regard to employment, education, access to credit, federal funding, housing and public accommodations.
It also includes my bill to prohibit a person from being removed from a jury because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The fate of Dreamers, as well as our Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, is still up in the air.
While the courts have given Dreamers a temporary reprieve, they are still living in a world of uncertainty where they could be deported from the only country they have known as home — America.
The Dream and Promise Act protects our nation’s Dreamers and TPS and DED immigrants. These protections would allow them to contribute fully to our country — and in many ways, they are already contributing — while providing a pathway to citizenship.
As Chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) will be a top priority. The HEA reauthorization must be a comprehensive and bipartisan approach to find ways to address access, affordability and completion.
The recent college admission scandal has also highlighted the issue of inequality in the admissions process and national preoccupation of getting into a “prestige” college.
It should not be about what school you get into but about what you get out of school.
This raises questions we will need to have answers to as we move forward. How wide does this scandal go and is this a systemic problem or isolated incidents? How can we expand the middle class by universities playing a more aggressive role in the admissions of students from underserved communities?
Last and certainly not least, there is the looming issue of climate change. As in 2009, we created a select committee on climate change to look at bold solutions to address this crisis.
I look forward to working with the community and my colleagues in Congress to work toward a legislative solution that particularly addresses the national security realities of climate change.
This is certainly an ambitious agenda, but that’s why we were sent to Congress — to do big things. As we move forward, we should always seek bipartisan consensus where we can but we must not compromise our values or principles.
— Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, including the communities of Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge, Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.