San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial: Rep. Mike Levin: Here's how I'm spending my first year in Congress

January 22, 2019
In The News

When the people of California’s 49th District elected me to represent them in Congress, I did not imagine that I would be sworn in during a partial government shutdown. On the same day that I raised my right hand and took the oath of office, I also cast my first votes to fund federal agencies that have been shut down by President Donald Trump.

The funding bills we have voted on since are not controversial. In fact, they are the same bills that Senate Republicans supported just a month ago. They would increase funding for smarter border security. They would allow 800,000 federal workers — including over 37,000 in California — to go back to work and receive the paychecks they deserve. And they would ensure that important government services that people rely on like food stamps are provided.

While we work to reopen the government, I have hit the ground running on key priorities for people back home, and I have an ambitious agenda to deliver results on their behalf.

I know that Democrats, Republicans and independents are all frustrated with the current state of politics and campaigns. That’s why I joined my colleagues in introducing H.R. 1, the For The People Act, a comprehensive bill to end the culture of corruption in Washington and bring more transparency to our political process. It will limit the unchecked influence of wealthy donors, prevent foreign money from manipulating America’s elections and strengthen ethics laws to prevent politicians from enriching themselves.

One of the top issues I heard about from families across the district was the epidemic of gun violence, which is why I also helped introduce a bill to institute universal background checks on all gun purchases.

Also, with miles of beautiful coastline along our district’s border, I am proud to co-sponsor legislation that will ban future offshore oil and gas drilling leases that threaten our water and marine life.

Finally, my top priority is addressing the nuclear waste challenges at San Onofre, and I’m already beginning the critical work that needs to be done to make our communities safer. I am assembling a task force on San Onofre that will convene local experts and stakeholders to help drive solutions, with the ultimate goal of crafting comprehensive policy that can improve safety at nuclear sites across the country.

There is much more work to do on a wide range of issues. We need to lower health care and prescription drug costs, invest in infrastructure, and improve services for our veterans. I have already heard from hundreds of constituents about the issues that are most important to their families. I want to ensure that I put their priorities first, which is why I will hold monthly public town halls, starting on Jan. 26 in Oceanside, where anyone is welcome to come and ask me any question they would like.

On the day I was sworn in, with my wife and two young kids by my side, I was reminded that we live in the greatest democracy in the world. I am so incredibly honored to serve my country, and there is so much that we can accomplish when we come together and put the interests of hard-working Americans first. That’s exactly what I intend to do as your representative in Congress.

Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, represents California’s 49th District. It includes southern Orange County and northwest San Diego County.