115th Congress

Accomplishments in the Senate: 1993-2021

117th Congress (2021-2022)
116th Congress
 (2019-2020) | 115th Congress (2017-2018)
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115th Congress (2017-2018)

Protecting Young Athletes: In response to the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, Senator Feinstein in March 2017 introduced legislation requiring amateur athletics governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and other amateur sports organizations to report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department within 24 hours. The bill was signed into law on February 14, 2018.

Feinstein’s effort was supported by former U.S National Team members who survived sexual abuse, as well as leading advocacy organizations. The new law authorizes the U.S. Center for Safe Sport to ensure that aspiring Olympic athletes can report allegations of abuse to an independent and non-conflicted entity for investigation and resolution, and to make sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention, detection, and investigation.

The law also amends the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act, which governs amateur athletics governing bodies, to make it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and mandate oversight to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented. Finally, it reforms the law that allows victims to sue sex-crime perpetrators by extending the statute of limitations because it’s often difficult for children to recognize that they have had crimes committed against them until much later on into adulthood.

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic, 2018: To address the staggering number of drug and opioid overdose deaths ravaging this country, Senator Feinstein authored a number of key provisions that were included in the comprehensive and bipartisan opioid package known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This bill holds drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for failure to report suspicious orders of opioids and reauthorizes critical substance abuse prevention, treatment, and enforcement programs that directly benefit California. Among the reauthorized programs are the Drug Free Communities, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas and drug court programs. The bill also reauthorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy, codifies the COPS Anti-Meth Program, expands access for substance use disorder treatment under Medicaid in-patient settings and addresses the needs of foster youth affected by parental substance use, including family-based treatment programs.

Protecting Religious Institutions: In response to a string of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and other religiously-affiliated institutions, Senators Feinstein and Orrin Hatch introduced legislation to update the Church Arson Prevent Action. While it was already a federal crime to damage religious property, this bill makes clear that to threaten religiously-affiliated institutions’ real property is also a federal crime. This bill was signed into law in September 2018.

Improving DNA Testing: A bill introduced by Senators Feinstein and Hatch and signed into law in early 2018 addresses delays in processing DNA samples to determine whether DNA profiles match other crimes by requiring the FBI to issue guidelines for local jurisdictions to use standardized Rapid DNA technology. This technology reduces processing time from months to just hours, allowing law enforcement to quickly advance investigations and protect the public.

Combating Human Trafficking: The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, introduced by Senators Feinstein and Chuck Grassley, passed the Senate unanimously in September 2017. The bill ensures continued support for trafficking survivors and resources for law enforcement to collaboratively pursue perpetrators. The bill would help address the exploitation of young girls on the Internet. The bill provides the Justice Department with civil injunction authority to get court orders forcing traffickers to remove their ads for underage girls.

Helping Victims of Child Pornography: Legislation introduced by Senators Feinstein and Hatch to make it easier for child pornography victims to secure restitution from those that produce and view child pornography passed the Senate unanimously in January 2018.

Protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area: Senator Feinstein’s legislation to designate the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as a National Heritage Area passed the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee in March 2017. The bill highlights the nationally significant cultural, ecological, and historical elements of the region.

Preparing for Earthquakes: Senator Feinstein authored a bill to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, which directs four agencies on early warning and seismic alerts, and resilience for building codes. The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee in December 2017 and the full Senate in September 2018.

Investigating Russian Interference: Since January 2017, Senator Feinstein has led or signed onto 91 letters to request information from the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, the White House, Cambridge Analytica, social media companies to advance the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice.

Protecting the Affordable Care Act: The Democratic caucus defeated four pieces of legislation to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid. By ending the federal government’s commitment to Medicaid, the bills would have cut Medicaid by $800 billion in the first decade after enactment and $2.6 trillion over the second decade.

Fighting the Muslim Travel Ban: Senator Feinstein led the Democratic caucus in introducing legislation to reverse President Trump’s executive order barring visitors from Muslim-majority countries and block its implementation by withholding funding. The bills also declares the executive order illegal based on the Immigration and Nationality Act, which banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin.

Closing Loopholes Exposed by Russian Interference: Senators Feinstein and John Cornyn introduced bipartisan legislation, the Foreign Agents Registration Amendments Act, to dramatically improve enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires individuals working on behalf of foreign governments in the United States to register with the Justice Department.

Standing Up for Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Senator Feinstein has led Democrats efforts to conduct oversight of the Trump administration’s executive actions undermining the rights of immigrants, those seeking asylum and refugees. She has led15 letters to the administration:

  • Preventing Family Separation: Senator Feinstein has led efforts to prevent family separation in the wake of President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, introducing the Keep Families Together Act with 48 co-sponsors. On July 31, 2018, she questioned administration officials at a hearing on the Oversight of Immigration Enforcement and Family Reunification Efforts.
  • Calling Attention to Harmful Administration Actions on Immigration: Senator Feinstein has led 23 letters to the administration and others, calling for action and accountability as follows:
    • February 10, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting information about raids in Los Angeles and Orange County.
    • February 21, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting information about who was affected by the travel ban.
    • February 27, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting information about guidance and related material released about the president’s executive orders.
    • March 14, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting rejection of policies separating families from their children.
    • March 29, 2017: Letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting information about the DHS 287(g) program, which delineates how ICE will work with local and state law enforcement.
    • March 29, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting stays of removal of private immigration bills, which allow senators to intervene in only the most compelling immigration cases.
    • July 10, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting rescission of policies targeting sponsors of unaccompanied children.
    • July 18, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly requesting clarification about what policies CBP and ICE rely on to enforce immigration laws for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes.
    • July 24, 2017: Letter to Secretary John Kelly and Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan requesting clarification about CBP policies regarding asylum seekers.
    • August 14, 2017: Letter to Acting Secretary Elaine Duke requesting consideration of the case of the Sanchez family from Oakland, Calif.
    • September 13, 2017: Letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, and Secretary Tom Price requesting required consultation on refugees.
    • October 31, 2017: Letter to Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director Thomas Homan requesting information about the National Archives and Records Administration to destroying immigration documents.
    • November 13, 2017: Letter to Acting Secretary Elaine Duke and Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan requesting information about violations of policies on enforcement actions at sensitive location like schools and hospitals.
    • December 5, 2017: Letter to Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director Thomas Homan requesting an investigation into the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California.
    • December 13, 2017: Letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen requesting the issuance of TPS Federal Register notices.
    • March 22, 2018: Letter to Acting Inspector General John Kelly asking for an investigation into the resignation of James Schwab.
    • May 23, 2018: Letter to Attorney General Sessions expressing concern that new decisions on asylum law would pose a threat to LGBTQ refugees.
    • July 11 and 30, 2018: Letters to Secretary Azar raising concern about the validity of data provided by the administration regarding immigrant children who were separated from their parents.
    • August 24, 2018: Letter to Secretary Nielsen expressing frustration with the administration’s separation of children from their parents beyond the court-ordered reunification date, and calling for the use of humanitarian parole to reunite children with parents deported during the zero tolerance policy.
    • September 21, 2018: Letter to President Trump expressing concern over the diversion of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during a season of unprecedented wildfires and hurricanes.
    • September 26, 2018: Letter to Secretary Alex Azar and Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging the administration to rescind a rule that would allow indefinite detention of families along the border.
    • October 1, 2018: Letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expressing concern about the expansion of the “public charge” definition to limit green cards.
    • October 2, 2018: Letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner McAleenan raising concern over the Inspector General’s report on family separation at the border, which found that CBP held children apart from their parents for extended periods of time in facilities intended for short term detention.
    • October 3, 2018: Letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley calling for hearings on family separation and detention conditions at the border, especially for children.

Securing Funding for CalTrain Electrification: Senator Feinstein persuaded Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to sign the grant agreement for CalTrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project after months of delay. Caltrain’s outdated diesel trains have reached the end of their useful life and the project is a $1.98 billion investment to replace the fleet of diesel locomotives with high-performance electric trains between San Jose and San Francisco. Construction will put 9,600 people to work across 13 states. When finished, the new trains will double ridership to 110,000 daily trips, reduce travel times between San Jose and San Francisco by 15 percent, cut emissions by 97 percent to prevent 24,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution yearly, and save more than 600,000 vehicle-miles each day on heavily congested freeways

Honoring the University of California: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution introduced by to honor the 150th anniversary of the University of California, which passed the Senate unanimously.

Pushing Back Against Trump’s Trade War: Senator Feinstein has been vocal in her opposition to President Trump’s trade war. She wrote several letters in 2017 and 2018 highlighting the harmful effects of the president’s tariffs and retaliatory tariffs on California:

  • August 16, 2018: Letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer highlighting the effects of the President’s China tariffs on California’s consumer electronics industry.
  • July 27, 2018: Letter to Agriculture Secretary Perdue and OMB Director Mulvaney requesting that California should be given adequate support in an agricultural assistance package for farmers affected by the president’s trade war.
  • April 4, 2018: Letter to Agriculture Secretary Perdue describing the effects of retaliatory tariffs on California farmers and urging him to take action to protect the competitiveness of American agriculture.
  • November 27, 2017: Letter to Commerce Secretary Ross expressing concern over the impact of the Department’s investigation of aluminum imports on the domestic beverage industry.

Protecting California’s “Made in America” Standard: In July 2018, Senator Feinstein took a stand on the Senate floor to successfully block passage of a bill that would replace California’s strong “Made in America” labeling standard with a watered-down national standard. Under California’s standard, the strongest in the nation, at least 90 percent of a final product must be composed of American-made parts to use the “Made in America” label. The weaker national standard would allow companies to confuse consumers by flooding the market with products sold under the “Made in America” label that are actually up to 30 percent foreign-made.

Promoting Workforce Development: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to recognize September 2017 and 2018 as National Workforce Development Month, which passed the Senate unanimously.

Recognizing the Importance of National and Local Charitable Organizations Supporting Children: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to recognize September 2017 and 2018 as National Child Awareness Month, which passed the Senate unanimously.

Providing Protections for Child Abuse Reporting: Senator Feinstein secured language in the Victims of Child Abuse Act reauthorization bill to strengthen protections for those involved in good faith reporting of suspected child abuse and maltreatment. The language clarifies that secondary reporters, such as a pediatrician who provides a second opinion on a suspicious x-ray, receive the same liability protection as the person who picks up the phone to make the actual report of suspected abuse.

Celebrating Women’s Participation in Sports: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to recognize National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which passed the Senate unanimously.

Protecting Rural Families: Senator Feinstein led an effort to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help keep 119 low-income, rural California residents in their homes. Specifically, Senator Feinstein requested that USDA use a portion of its $40 million surplus to help maintain affordable rents for the residents through the department’s Rural Rental Housing program.

Preparing for Future Droughts: Senator Feinstein obtained $515 million in new funding for storage, water recycling, desalination and other water supply infrastructure and $87 million in new funding to help restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This new funding was authorized under provisions Senator Feinstein and Representative McCarthy authored in 2016 legislation.

Improving Dam Safety: Senator Feinstein successfully inserted report language in enacted appropriations legislation that requires an independent risk analysis of Oroville Dam and an extensive review of all federal dam safety practices.

Restoring the San Joaquin River: Senator Feinstein’s successfully had report language added into the enacted appropriations legislation that required the Bureau of Reclamation, environmentalists and water districts to revise the implementation plan for restoring the San Joaquin River to align costs with available budgets and to broaden the program’s support. Following Senator Feinstein’s direction, the Bureau and the other stakeholders successfully developed this revised implementation plan.

Promoting Desalination: Senator Feinstein provided the first-ever federal funding assistance for local desalination projects, and increased the Bureau of Reclamation’s funding for desalination research by 35% to help improve the cost-efficiency and environmental sustainability of desalination technology.

Safeguarding Lives Along the Contra Costa Canal: The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced to the Senate floor Senator Feinstein’s legislation to transfer title to the Contra Costa Canal to Contra Costa Water District. The title transfer will enable the open canal to be converted to a closed pipe, preventing one drowning per year on average.

Financing Water Supply Projects: Senator Feinstein successfully inserted a provision into water legislation to require the Bureau of Reclamation and the EPA to work out how the agencies will jointly process low-cost loans for water supply projects that the agencies could potentially offer in the future.

Helping California’s Tribes: Senator Feinstein worked out an agreement with the Lytton Tribe and Sonoma County whereby the tribe agreed to refrain from gaming in the county in return for advancing legislation to take land into trust for housing, a hotel/winery and a community center for the benefit of the tribe.

Preventing Another Western Energy Crisis: Senator Feinstein continued to lead the effort by Western states to prevent energy market manipulation from causing another 2000-2001 Western Energy Crisis. Following eight letters led by Senator Feinstein in previous Congresses in 2017 and 2018, Senator Feinstein sent an additional two letters to the CFTC opposing efforts to reduce the number of financial actors operating in the U.S. energy market that are subject to appropriate oversight and transparency.

Expanding Conservation and Recreation in California’s Desert: Senator Feinstein continues her long-standing commitment to protect and conserve the California Desert with the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act. Building on the 1994 Desert bill, and the creation of 3 National Monuments in 2016, Senator Feinstein’s latest desert bill creates five new wilderness areas covering over 234,000 acres and expands Death Valley National Park Wilderness by over 90,000 acres. It also designates 142,000 acres of existing Off-Highway Vehicle trails as permanent recreation areas. This bill also adds 76 miles of Wild and Scenic River designations and adds 4,500 acres to Joshua Tree National Park. In October 2018, this bill was passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support.

Protecting Marine Resources on California’s Coastline: Senator Feinstein introduced the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act to phase out the use of a specific type of fishing gear, drift gillnets, used to catch swordfish and thresher shark. More dolphins, porpoises, and endangered sea turtles are killed by drift gillnets than any other gear type combined on the West Coast and nearly 60 other species are caught as bycatch in these nets. The bill will create a more sustainable fishery and authorizes funding for a transition program for fishermen. These specific types of nets are banned or not utilized anywhere else in the U.S.

Managing Public Lands Better: This bill authorizes a land exchange between San Bernardino County water district and the Bureau of Land Management that would advance a collaborative land management plan, preserve pristine habitat, maintain mining operations, and help with the recovery of dozens of endangered or threatened species. This bill advanced out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with full Committee support.

Supporting California Flood Control Projects: $2.5 billion dollars for construction of seven of the highest priority flood control projects and two flood control studies. The construction projects are expected to be completed in three to five years. As ranking member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Feinstein secured $4.5 billion for flood control projects in a recent bill to fund disaster relief and preparedness, with more than half of funds awarded to California projects. Projects include long-time priority South San Francisco Shoreline, Sacramento flood control, and funding a study for the Los Angeles County Flood Control System.

Improving Wildfire Response: Senator Feinstein worked with Senate Democrats to secure a permanent fix for the way the federal government funds wildfire suppression. The fix treats wildfires like other natural disasters, allowing federal agencies to use their budgets for mitigation activity rather than transferring hundreds of millions of dollars every year to pay for wildfire suppression. Combined with important forest management reforms, such as providing for 20 year stewardship contracts and a new expedited environmental review for wildfire resilience projects, this policy change will help states like California manage federal forests in a manner that reduces the risk of catastrophic fires, while also maintaining important environmental protections.

Fighting Wildfires from the Air: Senator Feinstein included a provision in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the transfer of seven C-130 aircraft from the federal government to the state of California for use in fighting wildfires. Under the provision, the Air Force will modify the cargo aircraft to fight wildfires, free of charge to the State of California. These planes will provide the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CALFIRE) with a unique capability unmatched by any firefighting agency in the world. Senator Feinstein secured $30 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Act to begin the retrofits.

Bolstering the Future of UC San Diego: Senator Feinstein secured language in a defense authorization bill that will allow the Navy to release its remaining interest in 495 acres of land transferred to UC San Diego nearly 60 years ago. The amendment will allow UC San Diego to update its Long Range Development Plan to include revenue-generating developments, such as hotels and conference centers.

Redeveloping Mare Island: Senator Feinstein included language in the FY19 NDAA directing the Navy to complete environmental remediation work on Mare Island. The completed work will allow the City of Vallejo to accept transfer of the land for redevelopment.

Protecting Peace Corps Volunteers: Senator Feinstein coauthored legislation to improve the provision of healthcare to current and former Peace Corps volunteers. The bill was named in honor of Nick Castle, a volunteer from California, who passed away while serving in China in 2013 from a treatable health emergency.

Assisting Palestinian Communities: Senator Feinstein led multiple efforts to prevent the destruction of Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Khan al-Ahmar and Susiya remain standing to this day, despite demolition orders.

Ending Large-Scale Surface Mining in Santa Clarita: Senator Feinstein included language in the 2018 omnibus spending bill to permanently end large-scale sand and gravel mining in the Soledad Canyon area of the Santa Clarita Valley. Local leaders had been fighting to end mining in the area since the 1990s.

Securing Funding for California Priorities (2017, 2018 and 2019): Senator Feinstein was very active in negotiations for fiscal appropriations bill and helped secure the following funding.

  • Military Construction Projects in California: $2.04 billion
  • Veterans Affairs Construction Projects in California: $147.5 million (and an additional $1.15 billion for seismic upgrades at VA facilities nationwide)
  • Transit Projects in California: $1.57 billion (FY19 remains unresolved)
  • Drought-related Water Infrastructure Projects: $532 million
  • Army Corps/Bureau of Reclamation Infrastructure Projects in California: $3.96 billion
  • West-Coast Earthquake Early Warning System: $46 million
  • San Francisco Bay Restoration: $14.46 billion
  • U.S.-Mexico Border/Tijuana River Pollution Cleanup: $35 million
  • Atmospheric River Storm Research and Implementation: $19 million
  • Anti-methamphetamine Task Forces: $23 million
  • U.S. Border Crossing Infrastructure in California: $297.7 million
  • Youth Homelessness Grants: $203 million

Aiding in Disaster Recovery (2017, 2018 and 2019): In the wake of devastating winter storms, wildfires and fisheries failures, Senator Feinstein secured critical help for Californians during the 115th Congress:

  • $90 billion for disaster recovery nationwide, including $55 billion for which California wildfire recovery efforts are eligible.
  • A provision allowing wildfire victims to deduct damages and qualify for special tax provisions already provide to hurricane victims.
  • A provision increasing the federal government's share of the cost for wildfire debris removal from 75 percent to 90 percent, which could save the state as much as $240 million.
  • $200 million for fisheries disasters nationwide (two fisheries disasters were declared in California in 2017).
  • $528 million for highways damaged by winter storms and disasters nationwide.