Aguilar issues report to constituents as 116th Congress comes to a close

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Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino).
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On Dec. 23 Rep. Aguilar issued a report to residents of California’s 31st Congressional District to review his work on behalf of Inland Empire families in the 116th Congress, which convened on January 3, 2019. Reflecting on the past two years, Aguilar commented:

“This past year has been incredibly challenging for Inland Empire families, and my focus has been on providing our region with the resources needed to navigate this crisis. As we enter a new year with the pandemic still devastating communities like ours, I will continue working to support the small businesses, frontline workers, first responders, and families who are the backbone of San Bernardino County. The incoming Biden-Harris Administration marks an opportunity for us to work together to build a better country with a brighter future for all who live here. I look forward to getting to work.”

During the 116th Congress, Rep. Aguilar delivered for the Inland Empire by:

  • Helping 1,102 Inland Empire residents resolve outstanding issues with federal agencies, such as accessing the Social Security, Medicare, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits they have earned;
  • Returning more than $1.3 million that the federal government owed to CA-31 residents by federal agencies, including IRS refunds, veterans’ benefits, Social Security payments, and more;
  • Announcing over $340 million in federal funding for the Inland Empire, including funding for local first responders and fire departments, Inland Empire schools, and job training programs;
  • Announcing more than $174 million in federal funds to help support Inland Empire residents during the coronavirus crisis;
  • Hosting small business town hall meetings to help businesses navigate coronavirus relief resource;
  • Securing $10.5 million and a national distinction to help Cal State San Bernardino become a key pipeline for national cybersecurity jobs;
  • Helping Inland Empire veterans connect with local resources on health care, housing, and employment and assisting with VA claims through Veterans Resource Fair
  • Providing Inland Empire seniors with free health screenings and help to obtain information on local food programs, health services, and Medicare, Social Security, and veterans benefits through a Senior Fair;
  • Nominating local students to the US Military Service Academies;
  • Hosting 28 events and meetings to help connect local agencies with federal grant opportunities; and
  • Participating in more than 220 meetings, tours, and events with CA-31 residents.

Throughout the past two years, Rep. Aguilar fought for legislation to help San Bernardino County families by:

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  • Passing the CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus and aid bill that gave most Americans direct payments of up to $1,200, provided $350 billion in relief to small business owners, expanded unemployment insurance benefits for affected workers, supplied approximately $200 billion to hospitals and health care providers, and granted $150 billion to state and local governments for emergency response;
  • Passing H.R. 133, a bill that includes $600 direct payments to most Americans, extends unemployment benefits provides rent and nutrition assistance funding, and funds forgivable loans and grants for small businesses;
  • Passing the Santa Ana Wash Plan Land Exchange Act, which was signed into law in 2019, resulting in an estimated $47 million in investments into local infrastructure projects and expanded conservation areas for threatened or endangered plants and animals within the Santa Ana Wash;
  • Adding amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 to:

o   Recruit and retain top military cybersecurity talent from institutions like California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) by permanently authorizing a successful direct-commissioning pilot program established by Rep. Aguilar in 2017;

o   Enhance the transparency of the country’s nuclear security by making certain funding for the nuclear program contingent on the release of reports currently being withheld by the Trump Administration; and

o   Combat white supremacist, extremist and criminal-gang activity in the military by requiring the Pentagon to report the total number of allegations, investigations, and inquiries related to this type of activity each year;

  • Working to secure funding for and pass key initiatives as Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, including:
  • $12 million for the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program, which benefits students at California State University San Bernardino;
  • $46.5 million for the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions program, for which CSUSB may compete;
  • $67 million for the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which trains teachers at 22 California State University campuses including CSUSB;
  • Robust funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports San Bernardino County’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategy;
  • $6.7 billion for VA Veterans Health Administration’s medical facilities, including the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System;
  • Requiring HUD to ensure DACA recipients can access FHA loans and become first-time homebuyers; and
  • Mandating the Office of Refugee Resettlement to invest in technology to track separated children in their care so they can be reunited with their parents;
  • Passing amendments to H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, to make the Inland Empire more competitive in applying for federal grants to reduce emissions and fight pollution;
  • Authoring H.R. 8974, the FHA Fairness Act to increase access to Federal Housing Administration loans for homebuyers in the Inland Empire;
  • Introducing the JOBS Act to help Inland Empire job-seekers and businesses connect with employment resources;
  • Reintroducing the REPORT Act, a bill drafted in response to the December 2, 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino that requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report to Congress after an act of terrorism occurs in the United States; and
  • Serving on the Committee on House Administration, participating in hearings to expose voter disenfranchisement, and assisting in the passage of legislation to create the Women’s History Museum and the Museum of the American Latino.

In addition to the legislation he’s introduced and authored, Rep. Aguilar helped the House pass hundreds of bipartisan bills in the 116th Congress. These include bills to provide relief to the American people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, reform our law enforcement agencies, invest in our nation’s infrastructure, expand access and increase the affordability of health care, bring transparency to the VA system, and protect Dreamers and immigrant families across the country.

Rep. Aguilar has represented California’s 31st Congressional District since 2015. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee, where he serves as Vice-Chair, and on the Committee on House Administration. Rep. Aguilar was recently elected by his colleagues to serve as Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 117th Congress.

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