|2020 was a year like no other. Together we faced a global pandemic, reckoned with racial injustice, battled wildfires, and defended democracy through an unprecedented election. Our community has risen to these challenges and has shown incredible compassion and creativity supporting one another in these difficult times. As we came together by staying apart, your civic engagement has made all the difference. During the historic two years that made up the 116th session of Congress, you shared your views on everything from impeachment to the federal coronavirus response, from police reform to public land conservation, and everything in between — and I have never been prouder to serve California’s Second District than during these trying times. In this newsletter, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on everything we accomplished.
Our district is one of the most engaged and informed in the country—you’ve sent my office nearly 400,000 calls, emails, and letters over the past two years. I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with thousands of you at town halls (online and in-person), during events around our community, and in individual meetings.
|Rep. Huffman visits with volunteers at SF-Marin food bank in San Rafael.
I’ve also been able to help you work with federal agencies. My staff and I have helped over 8,000 individuals and organizations navigate federal bureaucracies, bringing more than $12.9 million home to California. A major portion of this work focused on the pandemic: helping people return to the United States as travel was restricted, and helping local businesses access Small Business Administration programs including PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans), helping families track down missing federal direct payments, and more. In a year when we also responded to fire disaster assistance, I had a very busy district team. If you ever need help with a federal agency, please feel free to call my San Rafael office: (415) 258-9657.
And to learn more about what my office can do for you, subscribe to my newsletter, stay updated with our website huffman.house.gov, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Even as Congress adapted to new safety protocols and conducted hearings virtually for the first time, I stayed active on the legislative front, introducing 38 bills and resolutions with a total of almost 1,000 bipartisan cosponsors.
This Congress ended with a lot of unfinished business: although the House passed over 600 bills addressing pressing issues including health care, police brutality, climate change, and election reform, the Senate majority blocked votes on most of this of legislation, including the recent effort to increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
However, we were able to get several important changes across the finish line, including $600 million for fishing industry participants hit hard by the pandemic, increased funding for special education, and several improvements to water infrastructure programs. Let’s look back at a few of our legislative highlights:
H.R. 1878, IDEA Full Funding Act
- Creates a 10-year plan to hold the federal government accountable for the full 40% of funding for special education promised by Congress in the 1975 IDEA Act.
- Ensures that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity.
- This legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support, with 156 Members of Congress signing on as cosponsors.
- While this bill did not receive a floor vote, our continuous advocacy made a difference in IDEA funding – the final funding bill passed in December increased the state grants for IDEA by $173 million over the 2020 budget.
H.R. 2250, Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act
- Increases fire resilience, restores forests and fish habitat, rehabilitates lands impaired by illegal marijuana growing operations, increases recreation opportunities through new trails and visitor centers, and permanently protects many of northwest California’s most spectacular wild places and pristine streams.
- Passed the House with bipartisan support as part of the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act — a public lands management package that would permanently protect 1.37 million acres of federal land and 1,000 river miles in 3 states.
COVID Relief Packages
- In March, we passed the CARES Act to slow the spread of the virus and support families and small businesses.
- This bill included $300 million to assist fishery participants like those on the North Coast who have faced significant hardship during the pandemic. I led a bipartisan effort to ensure this funding was quickly disbursed to those in need, and a bipartisan letter to House leadership requesting additional relief funding.
- The House passed the Heroes Act in May, which included vital provisions to address the many challenges we are facing – including providing $75 billion for a robust testing and contact tracing program, continuing federal unemployment payments, and providing vitally needed assistance to states and localities to keep essential workers on the payroll.
- Several of these provisions made it into the final coronavirus bill signed into law in late December, including an additional $300 million for fisheries relief and billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible.
- I drafted the FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act, an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that was the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development.
- The final funding bill for 2021 approved in December includes improvements to the WaterSMART program and the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, as well as new research investments in water technology and snow water supply forecasting, and an ambitious new aquatic ecosystem restoration program that will help efforts in the Eel and Russian River basins.
H.R. 2405, Sea Grant College Program Reauthorization
- This Congress, I led the House effort to reauthorize the Sea Grant College Program to continue providing crucial research, education, and services to our coastal and Great Lakes communities.
- A similar bill was introduced in the Senate, which passed both chambers and was signed into law in December 2020.
H.R. 1146, Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act
- Protects the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling by repealing an oil and gas development mandate from the GOP Tax Bill.
- Passed the House by a bipartisan vote in September 2019.
Accomplishments on Pebble Mine
- I have continued to be a vocal opponent of this massive mining project that would put the livelihoods, cultures, and economy of Native Tribes and communities who depend on salmon fisheries at grave risk, including leading successful amendments in both the FY2020 and FY2021 appropriations bills barring the federal government from moving forward with the flawed permit.
- I also led several letters to the Army Corps and Environmental Protection Agency urging them not to permit the mine. While the Army Corps denied the permit for the mine in late November 2020, Bristol Bay should be permanently protected.
|Rep. Huffman at 2019 Town Hall in Point Reyes, read more here.
Our community has always been politically engaged. Before the pandemic, we were able to host 22 in-person town halls throughout the district, where I heard directly from you and answered your questions about my work in Congress and news from Washington. Once the pandemic hit, things looked different – but I was excited to be able to engage with you through my 14 online town hall events, where I was able to share updates on the pandemic, police reform, the climate crisis, and more. You can view these events at any time here.
|Reps. Huffman and Bonamici with panelists at Oceans & Climate Crisis Report Virtual Forum
I’ve also been able to meet with you in 588 individual meetings and other events, where we’ve delved into the specific issues on your mind. After each of these events, I am reminded how when we create solutions together, with a fresh and diverse group of perspectives, we can succeed together.
As Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee, I hosted a series of eight Listening Tour stops as I prepared my introduction of the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act, the primary law governing federal fisheries management and conservation. I was excited to hear from a wide range of experts who care about fisheries and oceans as we discussed the changes needed to address climate change, update fisheries research and technologies, increase transparency and accountability, and update the law to work even better for sustainable fisheries management. I am proud to have made the process for developing this legislation more inclusive, transparent, and deliberate through this Listening Tour. Along with my colleague Rep. Ed Case (D-HI), in December I ￼released a discussion draft￼ of the bill. I’m excited to continue hearing from stakeholders and to shepherd this MSA reauthorization legislation through Congress this coming year.
When I was elected Chairman of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee at the beginning of 2019, I set out to provide much-needed oversight of the Trump administration, improve the health of our oceans and economy of our coastal communities, respond to the threat that climate change poses to sustainable water supplies, and advance smart solutions to natural resources challenges. This congress, I held 26 hearings and 7 forums where we considered legislation and action on a range of topics: climate impacts, public lands, biodiversity loss, coastal resilience, endangered species, big cat safety, pollution, and illegal fishing. We still have a long journey ahead, but my resolve to meet the challenge is stronger than ever.
In my role on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am working to solve climate problems, make sure our waterways are contributing to the economy, and boost smart transportation solutions. Part of my work for the North Coast has been to expand the SMART Train and make long term plans for Last Chance Grade. We also had big wins in local water ways. I was able to help secure over $10 million for Humboldt Bay jetty repairs – a much needed project in our community. After years of advocating for funding, the Army Corps of Engineers finally allocated over $11 million for dredging preparation work for the San Rafael Canal and to dredge the Petaluma River, which was successfully completed last fall!
|Rep. Huffman at Humboldt Bay jetty repair groundbreaking
Last July, the House passed the Moving Forward Act, a more than $1.5 trillion proposal to meaningfully invest in infrastructure and make the changes needed to build a clean and resilient future. I was honored to have many of my own bills included in this historic legislation, including proposals to modernize and electrify the USPS fleet, invest in resilient water infrastructure, improve motorist and wildlife safety by investing in wildlife crossings, and more. The bill also included funding to deploy broadband on public lands – something I have been fighting for since I first came to Congress – and it was exciting to see that initiative included in this package and many others throughout the 116th Congress.
We had another big infrastructure win to close out 2020: a new deal announced to move forward with removal of four dams on the Klamath River and begin the largest river restoration in United States history. This groundbreaking decision followed our efforts to pressure this outcome through a forum I held to shine a light on the dams’ terrible impacts and legislation that passed the House in September.
As a member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I’m committed to creating real solutions to address the growing issue of the Climate Crisis, which touches every part of our lives – the economy, infrastructure, public health – and our future. And we need to tackle each element of this crisis if we are going to have a fighting chance to save our planet and build a more healthy, just, and resilient America. No half measures, no empty promises. That’s why I worked with my fellow committee members to create a Climate Crisis Action Plan, outlining ambitious and achievable policies to grow our economy and put Americans back to work in clean energy jobs, protect the health of all families, make sure our communities can withstand the impacts of climate change and protect America’s land and water for future generations. Learn more about the plan and my contributions to it here.
Looking ahead to the 117th Congress, we are faced with plenty of uncertainty: we remain in the midst of a pandemic, unemployment continues to climb, and our democracy continues to be threatened. However, I am hopeful that we can work together to restore our democracy, find solutions, and build back better. I am constantly inspired by the active and engaged constituents that I represent, and I look forward to moving forward legislation to serve you over the next two years.
Thank you for a wonderful two years. I hope the new year brings good health, happiness, and joy for you and your loved ones.