In the coming months, we must work together to pass a federal budget that will be balanced. We recently passed a commonsense measure that says if Congress does not do its job, we should not get paid.
While I was chairing the public buildings and emergency management subcommittee, I worked with the presidential administration on reforms to Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance programs to save time and money and help the Central Valley recover from future emergencies like a Delta levee breach or earthquakes, proposals that were recently signed into law.
Water truly is one of the most important job creators in the Central Valley, and maintaining a steady focus on water policies impacting California is a top priority. With more water storage and better management, California will be able to meet the demands of growing populations and increased food consumption around the world.
As a Central Valley farmer, bringing the specialized needs of various sectors of the valley’s agriculture economy to the House Agriculture Committee is indispensable when discussing federal policy and reform. We must continue to fight for a long-term Farm Bill that includes provisions for research, trade and valued-added programs to give our growers and producers a competitive and productive global edge here in the valley.
One future strength of the valley’s economy is its central location on the West Coast, and we’ve already begun to see job expansion as California’s premier logistics hub. I’m working on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to make sure we’re investing in and improving California’s infrastructure needs to meet these growing demands.
In the valley we also have an opportunity to look for more cost-effective and innovative approaches to passenger and freight rail service. As chairman of the Rail Subcommittee, a big focus will be on improving our rail systems, such as the Altamont Commuter Express, to increase frequency and offer quicker commutes so working families can spend less time traveling and more time together.
We also must ensure projects like California High-Speed Rail are held accountable and remain transparent for taxpayers. Without funding or a viable business plan, these projects should be delayed, and the money should be put toward shovel-ready projects that will put our family and friends back to work today.
We have a rare opportunity to work together in the House and Senate to enact comprehensive immigration reform this Congress. A bipartisan solution to make any such reforms must include a valley perspective.
California has a distinct need for a secure labor force. We must have a temporary worker program, and most importantly we need a workable system to verify those who are here and where those jobs are to make sure we are actually getting people back to work. Our entire community — our agricultural economy, our schools and our hospitals — are going to depend upon getting immigration reform right.
Finally, returning to the Veterans Committee for a second term will provide me the opportunity to fulfill the promises made to our brave and deserving veterans.
Coming from a family with a long and proud tradition of military service, and dedicating 16 years of service in the Air Force myself, offers me an inside perspective on ways we can improve care and support for our veterans. Last year I worked with the presidential administration to have job-creating legislation — the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act — signed into law, and we’ll continue these efforts to keep the momentum going on behalf of America’s veterans.
Our servicemen and servicewomen risk their lives every day to protect our country, and I’m committed to making sure we preserve the rights, protections and benefits that America's brave and heroic veterans deserve.
As your representative in Congress, your feedback is important. I am here to serve you, and so is my staff. I encourage you to contact my office at 579-5458 or through my website at http://denham.house.gov/ to let me know your thoughts and concerns about issues facing our community or ways we can help. I work for you, and customer service is our priority.
• Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, represents the 10th Congressional District, which includes Patterson and all of Stanislaus County, as well as southern San Joaquin County.