After twelve years of service in Congress a quick overview of top accomplishments doesn’t do justice to the full gamut of legislative successes, but here’s a quick summary of the standout initiatives.
Representing Silicon Valley, the heart of American innovation, I have always ensured that technological leadership is at the fore of my Congressional agenda. As co-author of the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which was enacted in 2003, I helped authorize a federal investment of up to $3.7 billion over 4 years in nanotechnology research and development.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Silicon Valley
Given the ever-increasing traffic congestion in the Bay Area, I am leading the effort to bring about greener and more sustainable transportation options. I fought to bring BART to Silicon Valley by delivering early funding and grant agreements for the project, bringing Administration officials and Congressional leaders to see the project firsthand, and organizing delegation support for Federal Transit Administration approval.
Driven by the urgency of ensuring that each and every child gets an equal and quality education, from my experience as an educator of over 30 years, I created the Equity and Excellence Commission. The 28-member Commission, now hosted at the Department of Education, brought together the nation’s leading experts in education to develop game-changing recommendations. The mission will finally manifested when the Commission’s report was released in February 2013.
I recognize that for America to remain competitive in science, technology, engineering and math, we have to invest in the future generation of leaders. That is why I authored the Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Act and the Elementary Educator STEM Content Coach Act – to improve how these critical topics are taught in the classroom. In moving STEM to the fore of the American conversation on competitiveness, I am also ensuring that teachers are getting the training and technology necessary to make STEM successful in America.
Key components of my INVENT Act, which promotes teaching of inventiveness and innovation, and my NET Corps Act, which helps teachers better use technology in classroom, were included in comprehensive congressional legislation. My leadership on STEM was recognized early in my congressional career: As a member of Democrats’ Innovation Agenda Task Force, my provisions on teaching innovation were key items in the innovation agenda that helped Democrats win the House in 2006.
Making California safe for everyone is one of my key priorities and accomplishments -- whether it was securing stronger safety language in the Transportation Authorization Bill, securing funding for Commerce and Justice departments to be more efficient and effective, or leading the promotion of DUI and Drug Courts as the right judicial and economic alternative to prosecution. I also helped secure a study on flight attendant fatigue, and its impact on aviation safety, and secured a spot for the Mineta San Jose Airport in the Transportation Security Administration’s high-tech security pilot program (the recommendations of which stemmed from my Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security).
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
With California spending more than most states when processing undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes or misdemeanors, I made sure that California (and especially Santa Clara County) was getting reimbursed for disproportionate and exorbitant expenses. Using my seat on the congressional committee that appropriates funding for the Justice Department, I led efforts annually to increase funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which is critically important to Santa Clara County and counties throughout California.
Health Care Reform
In my service as the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus for an unprecedented seven years, I worked with President Obama and top Congressional leaders to ensure that the needs of underserved communities were met in the historic Health Care Reform bill. In doing so, I successfully included provisions for language access in hospitals. I am a leader also in fighting to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, which is why I introduced the Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act. My bill expands coverage, ensures cultural and linguistic services, disaggregates data in diverse communities and diversifies health professions.
The environment is a top priority for me, especially in Silicon Valley where rapid development and urbanization trends require conservation of remaining green space. I secured millions in federal funding for the cleanup of the former Almaden Air Force Station atop Mt. Umunhum. My legislation secured federal funds for restoration efforts on the mountain and, finally, enabled public access after many decades.
Justice, Civil Rights, and Historical Reconciliation
Always a protector of the disenfranchised minority voice, I have played a prominent role in the successful struggle to secure benefits for Filipinos World War II veterans who fought alongside U.S. forces but were denied equal treatment for decades. I worked to make sure the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended racial profiling programs and culturally insensitive/incorrect training materials on Muslim-Americans and other targeted communities. Going further, I authored a congressional resolution condemning crimes against Sikh Americans after 9/11, which was included in the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. And working with the Department of Homeland Security, I brought about written policy at the department that recognizes LGBT partnerships as “family relationships” within the immigration process.
As a Japanese American formerly interned in a Colorado camp, I found federal funding for the preservation and restoration of historic confinement sites where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. Along these lines, I authored congressional legislation, both of which were passed by Congress, 1) calling on government of Japan to apologize to World War II sex slaves known, and 2) honoring soldiers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who served in the Civil War.
Securing Federal Funding for Silicon Valley
As a member of the exclusive House Appropriations Committee, I brought nearly half a billion dollars in federal funds to the South Bay, Silicon Valley communities that I represent. My efforts are ensuring that my constituents’ tax dollars are being efficiently and effectively returned to their communities in visible and meaningful ways that are having a positive impact.
I have secured millions of dollars for projects to improve vital public services including:
- helping prepare workers for careers in construction management; providing assistance to small businesses with business planning, financial resources, regulatory and technical assistance;
- training transit workers to move up the career ladder; providing resources to K-12 teachers to improve education through hands-on learning;
- upgrading critical technology at the Santa Clara County crime laboratory; enabling rapid response to potential elder financial abuse;
- implementing new fire science curriculum to train first responders; enabling low and moderate income homebuyers to buy their first homes;
- mobile mammography units to take screening services to women who are unable to take time off of work;
- improving services at numerous community health centers; implementing electronic health records systems;
- alternatives to detention, systems to identify at risk youth, and gang task force programs to help troubled youths; and,
- counseling and assistance for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.
In addition, I have delivered millions in funding to restore the environment, enhance local infrastructure, and support research and development, including: BART to Silicon Valley; Route 152 improvements; I-880/280/Stevens Creek Interchange; Zero Emission Buses and Light Rail; water infrastructure and flood control projects; remediation of the former Almaden Air Force Station atop Mt. Umunhum; restoration of the South San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds to their original wetland character; nanotechnology research at Santa Clara University; and a materials characterization and metrology lab at San Jose State University.
Awarded for Science Leadership in Congress
In 2013, I was selected as one of two recipients of the coveted George Brown Memorial Award for Science-Engineering-Technology Leadership in Congress. This award is presented by a group of over 30 science and engineering professional societies. The award, formally entitled the George E. Brown, Jr., Memorial Award for Science-Engineering-Technology Leadership, honors “Mr. Science” for his leadership over so many years in the House culminating in my chairmanship of the Science Committee.
I believe family immigration is the cornerstone of our immigration system. That is why I authored the Reuniting Families Act, legislation that reunites families in a humane and timely manner and improves our current immigration system by resolving bureaucratic delays, inefficiencies, and outdated policy. I urged the President to support all provisions of the Reuniting Families Act in comprehensive immigration reform. The President affirmed that family reunification cannot be sacrificed when developing a comprehensive immigration package.
I also introduced the Strengthen and Unite Communities with Civics Education and English Development (SUCCEED) Act, legislation that helps new Americans integrate into the social and economic fabric of this country, through English language education and civics instruction. As Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I work closely with President Obama and Senate and House leadership to forge bi-partisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation, and ensure that the AAPI community’s priorities and concerns are addressed in the implementation of immigration policy.