Accomplishments in the Senate: 1993-2016
113th Congress (2013-2014)
Strengthening oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies
Since assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee in January 2009, Senator Feinstein led the drafting and subsequent enactment of six consecutive authorization bills following a six-year span without authorization legislation. These bills are crucial tools to exercise oversight of the U.S. intelligence community, authorize funding for intelligence activities, and add or amend legislation affecting the intelligence community. The committee approved the intelligence authorization bill for fiscal year 2015 unanimously in July 2014 and it was approved by the Senate in December 2014.
Under Senator Feinstein’s leadership, the committee began a formal review of all U.S. intelligence collection programs, which is scheduled to be completed in the 114th Congress.
Providing a comprehensive review of the CIA’s flawed detention and interrogation program
Senator Feinstein led a five-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. In March 2009, the committee voted 14-1 to initiate the review. In December 2012, the committee approved the report with a bipartisan vote of 9-6. And in April 2014, the committee voted 11-3 to declassify the report’s executive summary and findings and conclusions, which were made public on December 9, 2014.
Bipartisan Benghazi investigation released
Following the tragic attacks against U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012, the Senate Intelligence Committee conducted a bipartisan investigation and issued a report in January 2014. The report found that the attacks were preventable, based on security vulnerabilities and a known terrorist threat. The report also made 18 recommendations to increase security at U.S. facilities abroad and improve the process for sharing unclassified information with policymakers.
Senator Feinstein’s legislation to help California grapple with the effects of an historic drought, the Emergency Drought Relief Act, passed the Senate unanimously. The bill would have provided federal and state water agencies with additional flexibility to deliver water where it is most needed.
The fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill included $50 million for the Department of the Interior and its partner agencies to address California’s drought through direct, immediate and actions to extend limited water supplies.
Ensuring California’s seniors can access their doctors
Senator Feinstein worked with the Senate Finance Committee to include a correction to the outdated Medicare payment model, the Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI), in the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, which was signed into law in April 2014.
The GPCI payment model determines a doctors’ reimbursements for health care services by their location, and the old model mistakenly classified more than a dozen counties in California as “rural” instead of “urban.” The resulting underpayment threated seniors’ access to doctors in their communities.
Senator Feinstein negotiated the inclusion of language from her Child Care Infant Mortality Prevention Act (S.1494) into the Child Care Development Block Grant Act (S.1086), which was passed by the Senate on November 17, 2014 by a vote of 88-1. This language authorizes funds to be used by child care providers for appropriate and adequate training on children’s safe sleep practices, first aid and infant CPR.
Inyo National Forest Land Exchange Act
Senator Feinstein was successful in securing approval for a land exchange between the operators of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Inyo National Forest. The land exchange will enable the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to acquire the 21 acres it currently leases from the Forest Service so that it can make long-term improvements to its facilities. In exchange, the Forest Service would receive approximately 1,500 acres of environmentally valuable private lands and cash payments equivalent to the value of the ski resort lands. This win-win solution benefits the local tourism economy and protects important natural resources.
Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act
Senator Feinstein was instrumental in securing legislative authorization for the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study, which will determine the best way to commemorate the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army’s first all-African American units. In particular, the bill seeks to honor the critical role they played in the early years of the national park system, including Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, where they essentially served as our nation’s first park rangers.
Senator Feinstein worked to make sure California’s federal courts are fully-staffed with well-qualified federal judges of diverse backgrounds. During the 113th Congress, 10 new federal judges were confirmed to California’s federal courts. All of these nominees were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Senator Feinstein serves.
On the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Senator Feinstein ensured that two new nominees, John Owens and Michelle Friedland, were confirmed. Senator Feinstein led the effort to confirm Judge Owens, and his confirmation is a significant step forward because the seat was vacant for nearly 10 years due to an interstate dispute.
Senator Feinstein also recommended and ensured the confirmations of six new federal trial judges: Troy Nunley (Eastern District of California), Beth Freeman (Northern District of California), James Donato (Northern District of California), André Birotte, Jr. (Central District of California), Cynthia Bashant (Southern District of California) and Haywood Gilliam (Northern District of California).
Protecting California agriculture in the farm bill
Senator Feinstein helped ensure that a dangerous amendment to overturn a wide range of California state laws that safeguard agricultural products and protect California consumers was not included in the 2014 farm bill.
Senator Feinstein also secured an amendment to allow California, which produces 20 percent of the nation’s milk, to opt in to the federal milk marketing order. Milk marketing orders provide for an orderly market, ensuring that consumers have adequate access and reasonable prices for dairy products made from all classes of milk. Senator Feinstein’s amendment authorizes USDA to operate a marketing order in California, if California’s producers vote to join the federal milk marketing order, while maintaining the state’s existing “quota” system.
Agricultural worker program provisions in Senate-passed immigration reform bill
Senator Feinstein negotiated the agricultural worker program provisions in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, Immigration and Modernization Act to ensure California’s agriculture sector has the workers it needs to thrive. Senator Feinstein’s provisions would create a blue card program to provide legal status and a pathway to citizenship for current undocumented farm workers. The Agricultural Worker Program provisions would also establish two agricultural visa programs to ensure farmers are able to legally hire future workers when local workers are unavailable.
Homeless housing at the West Los Angeles VA campus
Senator Feinstein worked with Senator Boxer and Representative Waxman to secure $35 million for homeless housing at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill. The funds will be used to renovate Building 205, which is currently vacant into between 55 and 60 apartments for homeless veterans.
Earthquake early-warning system
Senator Feinstein secured a $5 million down payment for California’s earthquake early-warning system in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill. An integrated, state-wide system will help to save lives, reduce property damage and protect critical infrastructure.
Resolution to Soledad cross dispute in San Diego
Senator Feinstein brokered a compromise to resolve a long-standing legal dispute over the Mt. Soledad Memorial in San Diego. Her compromise, which requires the Defense Department to sell the Memorial to the Mt. Soledad Association for an appropriate cost, was included in the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.
Safeguarding and improving California’s water infrastructure
As chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development, Senator Feinstein secured more than $1 billion for water infrastructure projects in California during the 113th Congress. These projects help protect California from flood risks, improve the operations and accessibility of its navigation channels and waterways, and support environmental restoration projects that benefit ecosystems and communities.
Key projects include the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study (flood protection and environmental restoration), Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration project, Channel Islands Harbor dredging and the Santa Ana River Mainstem Flood Protection project.
Expanding and modernizing California’s border ports of entry
Senator Feinstein focused on securing funds to modernize and expand two California Border Ports of Entry, San Ysidro and Calexico. Planned projects would help San Ysidro, the world’s busiest land border crossing, and Calexico handle increased traffic loads and comply with security requirements.
In the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, Congress funded the third and final phase of San Ysidro ($216.8 million) and the first of two phases for Calexico ($98 million).
In the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, Congress approved $226 million to fund the second phase of construction on San Ysidro. That’s in addition to $298.4 million approved between 2004 and 2011 to fund design, land acquisition and initial construction.
California mass transit projects
Senator Feinstein secured over $500 million in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill for mass transit projects in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
- Los Angeles Regional Connector: $100 million
- This project would create a two-mile underground connection of the Gold and Blue lines, allowing riders to travel across Los Angeles County without needing to transfer at Union Station. It would also add three new stations to the system.
- Los Angeles Westside Subway: $100 million
- This project is the first phrase of a three phase expansion that would connect Union Station to Westwood and the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs complex. The project would also extend the existing purple line subway along Wilshire Blvd from Western Ave. to La Cienega Blvd.
- BART to Silicon Valley: $150 million
- This 10.15- mile project would extend BART from Fremont to Berryessa Road in San Jose.
- San Francisco Third Street Light Rail/Central Subway: $150 million
- This 1.7 mile project will connect Bayshore in the south to Chinatown in the north to relieve significant overcrowding on the route’s existing bus service.
- Los Angeles Regional Connector: $65 million
- Los Angeles Westside Subway: $65 million
- BART to Silicon Valley: $150 million
- San Francisco Third Street Light Rail/Central Subway: $150 million
Strengthening crime victims’ rights
Senator Feinstein succeeded in having a provision inserted into the Justice for All Reauthorization Act that would ensure that monies from the Crime Victims Fund are used exclusively to help crime victims, and not for other purposes. This provision was enacted into law in August 2014 as part of the Victims of Child Abuse Reauthorization Act.
Funding for gun safety programs
Senator Feinstein led the effort to ensure robust funding for programs and agencies that prevent and respond to gun violence. The fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill contained a $22 million increase for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a $14.5 million increase for grant programs to help states submit records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Unaccompanied immigrant children
In the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, Senator Feinstein helped secure funding to provide humanitarian services to an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing violence and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The Department of Health and Human Services was allocated $945 million, an $80 million increase over fiscal year 2014, to provide services to the children, including medical care and child advocates.
Anti-methamphetamine task forces
In the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, Senator Feinstein created a new Department of Justice grant program to provide funding to states for new anti-methamphetamine task forces. California received a $1 million award in November 2014 for a Los Angeles-based task force.
Supporting cancer research
Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to designate May as National Cancer Research Month. The resolution recognizes the importance of research, the commitment of scientists working to develop better treatments and a cure and the contributions of patient advocates. It passed the Senate unanimously on May 21, 2014.
After numerous committee hearings and meetings with representatives from the administration, the private sector, and privacy advocates in 2013 and 2014, Senator Feinstein and Senator Saxby Chambliss authored a bipartisan cybersecurity information sharing bill that was approved by the Intelligence Committee by a 12-3 vote. The measure would authorize companies to share cyber threat information, on a strictly voluntary basis, with other companies and with the government and would provide liability protection for such sharing.
Senator Feinstein and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) led 40 senators and 172 representatives in filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) legal brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor. Section 3 of DOMA excluded legally-married same-sex couples from the rights and responsibilities provided under over 1,100 provisions of federal law. The brief argued that “DOMA imposes a sweeping and unjustifiable federal disability on married same-sex couples.” The constitutional challenge to Section 3 of DOMA prevailed in a 5-4 decision.
Subsequent to the Supreme Court’s decision, Senator Feinstein led 39 senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to “swiftly and comprehensively implement” the decision, and to award benefits equally “to the greatest extent possible.” In June 2014, the Justice Department announced the conclusion of that implementation. After a wave of new judicial decisions, Senator Feinstein again wrote to the president urging him to expand equal access to Social Security and Veterans’ benefits for legally married same-sex couples.
Combatting Drug Trafficking and Abuse and Informing Drug Policy
As chairwoman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Senator Feinstein worked with the U.S. Sentencing Commission to increase penalties on traffickers who cause serious environmental damage while operating illegal marijuana grows. The new sentencing guidelines went into effect on November 1, 2014. Senator Feinstein also persuaded the Sentencing Commission to examine whether penalties should be increased for people who flavor or market a drug to entice minors, which it is currently doing.
Senator Feinstein introduced the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which passed the Senate unanimously. This bill would allow for the prosecution of drug traffickers if there is a “reasonable cause to believe” that the drugs they are shipping are ultimately destined for the United States. It would also impose penalties for precursor chemical producers from other countries who illegally ship materials to the United States when they know or have reasonable cause to believe these materials will be used to make illegal drugs.
Strengthening Food Safety
Senator Feinstein urged the United States Department of Agriculture to establish strong new pathogen standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry parts to better protect consumers from foodborne illness. The standards were scheduled to be announced in early 2015.
Protecting Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
Following reports of abuse of immigrant children, Senator Feinstein urged the administration to quickly finalize national standards to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse and sexual harassment of unaccompanied immigrant children held in federal custody, and to appropriately punish sex offenders. The new rules were issued in December 2014.
Expanded Reporting of Hate Crimes
After a gunman killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in August 2012, Senator Feinstein led a successful effort to persuade the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs and other religious and ethnic minorities. Senator Feinstein made the initial request in a letter to Attorney General Holder, which was co-signed by 18 senators. In August 2013, the FBI announced it would begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs and other groups.
Ensuring the Security of our Electric Grid
After the attack in April 2013 on Pacific Gas & Electric’s Metcalf substation, which disabled 17 transformers that channel power to Silicon Valley, Senator Feinstein made the protection of critical electric infrastructure a top priority.
Senator Feinstein joined her colleagues Senators Reid, Wyden, and Franken, on February 7, 2014, in sending a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation urging them to consider stronger federal standards on physical security at critical substations to ensure reliable operation of the bulk power system.
In response, both agencies are finalizing new physical security standards.