I was in Wawona on Monday meeting with local businessmen and enjoying being back home in our beautiful district, but I was discouraged by the $4.94 regular, unleaded gas prices I saw. I decided to talk with a few customers who were filling up and hear from them directly. One woman paid $45.00 for half a tank of regular gas, which is what she usually pays for a full tank! An employee told me that gas prices are now beyond what he can pay to commute. I am worried about the negative consequences high gas prices will have for tourism and farming industries in the 19th district, not to mention the hardships rising prices are causing for families every day.
After talking to these customers, I came back to Washington and spoke on the House Floor about what I heard. You can watch my floor speech here. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy Action Team, I have been working hard as your Representative to find solutions to lower gas prices and ease the burden on you and our economy. Yesterday, I took real action to bring down gas prices that are burdening families and businesses. I voted to complete the passage of three energy bills that will expand American energy production, create jobs and lower gasoline prices by reversing Obama Administration policies that have placed our country's energy resources off-limits. I co-sponsored all three of the bills, H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230 and H.R. 1231, that bring us one step closer to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating American jobs.
As Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, I have been working with the Administration on legislation to reduce our federal footprint and save billions of taxpayer dollars. I introduced my Civilian Property Realignment Act and yesterday, in a subcommittee hearing, my bill received broad support from both public agencies and private individuals. Witnesses at yesterday's hearing agreed with me that there is potential for significant savings through the sale of high value properties, redevelopments and the more efficient use of property. VIDEO : http://youtu.be/3Qb8FtSgJ9c
In an interview with Federal News Radio this week I discussed my bill and my goals for the legislation going forward. In case you missed it, be sure to listen here: http://bit.ly/jF9mKX
As the news stations reported on Wednesday, the Legislative Analyst's Office released a report highlighting their concerns with California's high-speed rail project. With our country facing a debt of over $14 trillion, I was encouraged that another independent group is also thinking practically about how we are spending money. As I have always said, while I do support the idea of HSR, California must have a disciplined, genuine business plan that shows people and investors how this system is going to be run and paid for. Until we have that, we cannot continue to throw money at a project that is not shovel ready and will not create immediate jobs in CA.
We need to focus on shovel-ready projects that will put people in the Central Valley back to work immediately. I discussed my definition of a shovel-ready project at a subcommittee hearing, you can watch here: http://bit.ly/jEIK9n.
Increasing confidence in small businesses around the country will also help grow our economy and put people back to work. I believe there is great potential for economic growth in the Central Valley and next Wednesday, I am meeting with a group of small business owners in our district to hear their ideas about how to get our economy growing so that businesses, like theirs, can create jobs and thrive again.
San Joaquin Valley farmers and ranchers are a key driver for our local economy and for too long, they have been unable to fully utilize their agricultural resources and create jobs due to an unpredictable and unreliable supply of water. We can no longer afford to operate under outdated and unworkable policies that have hindered California's farms and economy for more than a decade. Rep. Nunes, Rep. McCarthy and I introduced the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act this week to help ensure that we cut through the bureaucratic policies inhibiting our local economy and bring a reliable water supply to farmers so they can grow their crops and create jobs. On Monday, Rep. Nunes and I are meeting with local farmers and businessmen from the Valley to hear their input on the bill.
Yesterday, in a Veterans' Affairs Committee mark up we voted to bring six bills to the House Floor. Collectively, the six bills protect the care Veterans currently receive and provide solutions to fix flawed programs. Next Wednesday, I am holding a Veterans Roundtable with members from the Oakland Regional V.A., the Livermore V.A. Medical Center, representatives from the California Department of Veterans Affairs and Steve Lawson from the Modesto Veterans Center. As a Veteran, I understand how sensitive Veteran's concerns may be and I have designed this meeting to be a place where everyone can speak openly about their issues and concerns with the V.A. All Active Duty Military and Veterans are invited and encouraged to attend. Please contact Mike Anderson at my Modesto office for more information.
I am also holding a town hall in Oakhurst this coming Thursday with Madera Supervisor Wheeler. The event is open to the public and I hope to see you all there! If you need more information about the meeting please call my Fresno office. Also, "Like" my official ("Representative Jeff Denham") facebook page, and let me know what issues you would like to talk about.
I want to extend another big congratulations to Emily Newton, the 19th District winner of the Congressional Art Competition! See photos from the announcement reception here: http://bit.ly/kTUUTU
I have really enjoyed hearing from many of you on my official twitter and facebook pages: both are great ways to keep in touch and discuss solutions to deal with our deficit and debt, rising gas prices, water, transportation, and many other issues affecting the Valley.
Please also be sure to follow my activity on my You Tube page where I have highlights from my week. Also, continue to tell your friends to sign up for this weekly update on my website.
JEFF DENHAMUnited States Representative