116th Congress - First Session (2019)

Accomplishments in the Senate: 1993-2020

116th Congress (2019-2020) |115th Congress (2017-2018)
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116th Congress - First Session (2019)

Protecting California’s desert wilderness: Senator Feinstein authored and secured passage of the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act, which protects more than 375,000 acres of wilderness, expands desert national parks by almost 40,000 acres, designates 200,000 acres of off-highway vehicle areas and designates 77 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. The bill is the final step in a process that began with the first California Desert Protection Act in 1994.

Fighting for military housing reform: Senator Feinstein secured provisions from her Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act in the defense authorization bill, which was enacted. The provisions will create stronger oversight mechanisms, allow the military to withhold payments to contractors until issues are resolved and prohibit contractors from charging certain fees. It will also require the military to withhold incentive fees from poorly performing contractors.

Violence Against Women Act: Senator Feinstein introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which every Democratic Senator supports. Along with reauthorizing funding for important programs that combat domestic violence and support survivors throughout the country, the bill makes important improvements to the law. Specifically, Senator Feinstein’s bill would help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, fix gaps in the law so that Indian tribes can better prosecute domestic violence on their lands and ensure protections for LGBTQ people.

Protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Senator Feinstein introduced and passed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act, a bill to establish the Delta as California’s first National Heritage Area. The bill also authorized $10 million in federal assistance over 15 years to provide matching grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations. This federal funding is necessary to help implement the locally developed National Heritage Area management plan to promote environmental stewardship, heritage conservation and economic development projects throughout the Delta.

Preserving the Santa Ana Wash: Passed as part of a public lands package, the Santa Ana Wash Plan Land Exchange Act directs the Bureau of Land Management to exchange approximately 300 acres of land with the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District in the Santa Ana Wash, at the junction of the Santa Ana River and Mill Creek. The land exchange will help consolidate 1,347 acres of open space to preserve and protect habitat along the river’s floodplain as part of the broader Santa Ana River Wash Plan.

Providing disaster relief: Of a total $19.1 billion included in a disaster relief bill, California was eligible for $12.6 billion in funds for relief efforts related to the record-breaking 2018 wildfire season which included the Camp, Hill, Woolsey, Carr and Mendicno Complex fires. Also included in the bill was language authored by Senator Feinstein to ensure those who suffered from the Paradise Fire would be eligible for USDA rural development funding. Under previous law, those families and the community weren’t eligible for funds because of the town’s population prior to the devastating Camp Fire. Senator Feinstein was also the lead Democratic cosponsor of a bill to provide tax relief to victims of the recent California wildfires. Substantial language from the bill was included in the end-of-year spending package.

Securing funding for California-Mexico border water infrastructure: Senator Feinstein secured $300 million for EPA to move forward long overdue investments in wastewater infrastructure to significantly decrease sewage, trash and pollution flowing from Mexico into Southern California. Additionally, Senator Feinstein was the lead Democratic author of the North American Development Bank Improvement Act, which passed as part of the US-Mexico Trade Agreement and will provide financing for the construction of critically needed wastewater facilities on both sides of the border.

Securing climate change funding: As lead Democrat of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Feinstein secured strong funding for climate change and clean energy initiatives. Funding included a record $2.85 billion for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program and $7 billion for the Office of Science, which fully funds the national labs, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California.

Reforming our broken immigration system: Senator Feinstein has led efforts to reform our immigration system in order to meet the needs of families and workers, limit inhumane immigrant detentions and offer a pathway to earned citizenship.

  • Shielding farmworkers from deportation: Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to protect farmworkers from deportation and put them on a path toward earned legal status, ensuring California’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to succeed. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives as part of a larger series of reforms in December 2019.
  • Protecting vulnerable immigrant children: Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to protect immigrant children in federal custody and improve the efficiency of our immigration system. The bill would prohibit family separation, codify the Flores Settlement Agreement, provide counsel to young children in immigration court, fund more immigration judges and allow them to prioritize important cases.

Standing up for vulnerable immigrants: Senator Feinstein led efforts to win immigration relief for a young woman suffering a rare medical condition, who otherwise would have been deported to Guatemala under new Trump administration policies, even though her survival depended on life-saving medication not available in that country.

Calling attention to harmful administration actions on immigration: Senator Feinstein has led more than a dozen letters to the administration and others, calling for action and accountability as follows:

  • December 10, 2019: Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham calling for hearings on the death children in CBP custody.
  • November 19, 2019: Letter asking Chairman Lindsey Graham calling for a hearing on the “Remain in Mexico” program.
  • September 19, 2019: Letter asking Chairman Lindsey Graham to work together to block harmful immigration provisions from must-pass spending bills.
  • August 23, 2019: Letter to Chairman Lindsey Graham calling for hearings on the administration’s effort to rescind the Flores Settlement Agreement.
  • August 12, 2019: Letter to Acting Secretary McAleenan urging DHS to reunite families separated as a result of a large ICE raid in Mississippi.
  • July 15, 2019: Letter to Acting Directors Cuccinelli and Morgan expressing concern about the increased denial of visas for human trafficking victims.
  • July 10, 2019: Letter to Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello requesting an investigation into reports that Border Patrol Agents participated in vulgar social media posts.
  • July 1, 2019: Letter to Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan urging more consistent and humane treatment of families and individuals in CBP custody.
  • June 5, 2019: Letter to Acting Director Morgan regarding the death of Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman held in ICE custody.
  • May 23, 2019: Letter to Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan urging ICE not to detain vulnerable children and parents during immigration raids.
  • May 10, 2019: Letter to Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa Erichs requesting information on a February ICE operation in Santa Cruz, California.
  • May 3, 2019: Letter to Secretary Azar calling for an investigation into the death of a child in HHS custody.
  • May 2, 2019: Letter to Acting Commissioner John Sanders urging CBP to reevaluate vehicle pursuit policies in light of numerous deaths.
  • April 26, 2019: Letter to Acting Secretary McAleenan expressing concern about the metering asylum seekers at the southern border.
  • April 15, 2019: Letter to Acting Director Morgan requesting information on the treatment Jose Ibarra Bucio received at the Adelanto ICE processing center prior to his death.
  • March 13, 2019: Letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen requesting information about retaliatory actions taken by DHS against journalists and lawyers along the southern border.
  • February 28, 2019: Letter to Inspector General Daniel Levinson requesting an investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse against unaccompanied children in HHS facilities.

Advocating for improved conditions on our border: Senator Feinstein’s California staff has conducted 21 visits to inspect conditions at Border Patrol facilities in the state, in addition to eight oversight visits to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers and seven Office of Refugee Resettlement children’s shelter sites. These visits led to call for improved conditions for migrants in detention, resulting in facilities adopting better access to medical care, showers, hygiene products and age-appropriate nutritious foods for children and families.

Calling for Horseracing Reforms: After dozens of horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in California, Senator Feinstein called on tracks to halt racing and investigate the high number of deaths. Feinstein also called on horseracing tracks to increase transparency in how they determine if horses are healthy enough to race. Feinstein also cosponsored the Horseracing Integrity Act to prohibit the use of race-day medications and improve safety for horses and riders by establishing an independent body to oversee the use of drugs in racehorses. Feinstein has continued to push for horseracing reform by joining efforts to create a national uniform standard for American racetracks.

Supporting the fight against breast cancer: Senator Feinstein reauthorized the Breast Cancer Research Stamp for the seventh time since it was first established in 1998. This semi-postal stamp has raised more than $92 million for breast cancer research and has now been authorized until 2027. Senator Feinstein also called on some of the nation’s top retailers, banks and consumer sites to promote the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. Rite Aid will start selling the Breast Cancer Research Stamp in its 2,464 stores, including 541 in California.

Working to prevent wildfires: Senator Feinstein helped secure $5.6 billion to fight wildfires in an annual spending bill, a $1.6 billion increase over last year. The legislation also requires the federal government to prioritize projects in national forests facing significant tree mortality, like those in California.

Helping at-risk women detect cancer: Senator Feinstein authored and secured passage of a bill that requires health care providers to inform patients if they have dense breast tissue, a factor that places women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Early detection is critical to increasing the chance of survival for women with breast cancer and patients deserve to know their own medical information in order to make fully informed decisions about their health.

Using federal resources to address homelessness: Despite its use as a winter shelter, the West Los Angeles National Guard Armory was unable to house homeless people year-round due to a stipulation in a 1957 deed. Senator Feinstein secured language in an annual defense authorization bill that modified the language in the original deed. The armory can now function as a year-round homeless shelter with 150 beds and on-site mental health services.

Securing funds to rebuild China Lake: Senator Feinstein worked to secure $2.9 billion in federal funding for rebuilding efforts at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake following significant damage from two major earthquakes in 2019.

Safeguarding lives along the Contra Costa Canal: Senator Feinstein’s legislation to transfer Contra Costa Canal’s title to Contra Costa Water District was signed into law. The title transfer will enable the open canal to be converted to a closed pipe, preventing one drowning per year on average.

Preparing for future droughts: Senator Feinstein obtained $565 million for Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure, drought resilience and fishery restoration programs in California in annual funding legislation for fiscal 2020. The funding will benefit projects throughout the state including the Sites Reservoir Project, the Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion, restoration of the Friant-Kern Canal and water recycling, environmental restoration and desalination projects in Southern California, Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley.

Helping farmers replenish groundwater supplies: Senator Feinstein secured $20 million for repair of critical canals needed to convey floodwaters to help farmers restore depleted groundwater supplies.

Providing homelands for California tribes: At the request of Senators Feinstein and Harris, Congress enacted legislation placing nearly 2,000 acres into trust for Indian communities in California, including 511 acres for the Lytton tribe in Sonoma County and 1,427 acres for the Chumash tribe in Santa Barbara County.

Bot disclosure and accountability: To address the problem of online bots disseminating false information, Senator Feinstein secured report language in appropriations legislation directing the Federal Trade Commission to report to Congress on whether the use of social media bots in online advertising needs to be regulated.

Raising funding for low-income housing: A provision Senator Feinstein championed to provide more Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding for areas hit by the recent California wildfires was included in the year-end spending package.

Protecting veterans’ housing: In response to a letter from Senator Feinstein, the IRS agreed to allow veterans’ housing projects to once again receive tax-exempt private activity bonds, which help facilitate their construction.

Pushing back against Trump’s trade war: Senator Feinstein has been a vocal opponent of President Trump’s trade war. She took a number of actions to highlight the harmful effects the president’s tariffs and retaliatory tariffs have had on California:

  • In June, submitted a formal comment letter to the US Trade Representative opposing the president’s proposed new tariffs on imports from China. Later in 2019, the majority of these proposed new tariffs were suspended before going into effect.
  • In June, sent a letter to the USTR to ask that reducing tariffs on wine be a priority in negotiations with Japan and China. The limited trade deal with Japan announced later in 2019 included a phase-out of wine tariffs.
  • In August, sent a letter to the USTR urging a quick resolution of the escalating trade dispute with India.
  • Cosponsored several bills that would limit the president’s authority to unilaterally impose tariffs.

Recognizing the contributions of immigrants: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution recognizing June 2019 as Immigrant Heritage Month, a celebration of the accomplishments and contributions immigrants and their children have made in shaping the history, strengthening the economy and enriching the culture of the United States.

Bringing awareness to human trafficking: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution designating January 2019 as National Trafficking and Modern Slavery Prevention Month, which passed the Senate unanimously.

Fighting for women’s equal pay: Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to ensure that female amateur athletes, coaches, trainers and other staff are paid equally to their male counterparts. This legislation was introduced in response to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team alleging that they were paid significantly less than their male counterparts despite achieving greater success and higher ticket sales.

Honoring women’s contributions to our country: Senator Feinstein helped lead efforts to secure $5 million in the fiscal 2020 annual spending bill for the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, an increase of $3 million over the previous year. The initiative’s mission is to research, collect, document, display and share the compelling story of women.

National Women’s History Month: To commemorate the progress women have made on the march toward equality and to recognize the work still left to be done, Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to designate March 2019 as National Women’s History Month.

Addressing the backlog of untested rape kits: Senator Feinstein introduced and passed a bill to reauthorize the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant program. The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant program has dramatically reduced the backlog of untested DNA rape kits, providing justice for rape survivors and getting dangerous predators off the streets. Since 2004, more than 860,000 rape kits have been tested and 360,000 DNA profiles uploaded to the FBI’s database thanks to this program.

Fighting to end the stigma for sexual assault victims: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution to designate April 2019 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in an effort to eliminate the stigma experienced by sexual assault survivors who come forward.

Reaffirming women’s right to choose: Senator Feinstein introduced a resolution with 43 of her Senate Democratic colleagues affirming their support of women’s access to reproductive health care and a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. It came on the heels of legislative efforts in Georgia, Alabama and other states intended to undermine women’s reproductive rights and ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade.

Standing up for LGBT workers: Senator Feinstein led an amicus brief in support of LGBTQ workers, arguing that civil rights laws protect LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination ahead of a Supreme Court case to decide the issue.

Preserving the Justice Department’s San Francisco environmental office: In response to Senator Feinstein’s letter, the Department of Justice cancelled its plans to close its San Francisco field office for environmental enforcement. The Justice Department also agreed to review options to keep the field office permanently in the Bay Area when its current lease expires in November 2020.

Recognizing American flower growers: As a result of Senator Feinstein’s efforts, July 2019 was designated American Grown Flower Month to encourage consumers to buy certified American grown flowers. California grows nearly 75 percent of American-grown flowers; however only one in five flowers sold in the United States was grown domestically.

Encouraging workforce development: Recognizing the need to make sure America’s workforce keeps pace with developments in our economy, Senator Feinstein’s resolution named September 2019 as National Workforce Development Month. The resolution promotes federal programs that support workforce development and keep American workers competitive.

Promoting a One Health approach between scientists: A Feinstein resolution designated January 2020 as National One Health Awareness Month to recognize the interconnected health of people, animals, and the environment while encouraging interdisciplinary research in public health to solve global health problems like antibiotic resistance and the spread of infectious diseases.

Fighting for California’s fuel economy standards: Following attacks on the state’s authority to set its own tailpipe emissions standards by the Trump administration, Senator Feinstein led an effort encouraging all major automakers to sign an agreement with California to voluntarily commit to stronger fuel economy standards than the federal level.

Strengthening boat safety: In the aftermath of the Conception boat fire, Senator Feinstein introduced the Small Passenger Vessel Safety Act to prevent another tragic boat fire from occurring on the hundreds of similar boats currently operating. The bill would require the Coast Guard to issue new rules about means of escape, interconnected fire alarm systems and the charging of lithium ion batteries.

Ending environmentally harmful policies: Senators Feinstein introduced the Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy Act, a bill to abolish the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The corn ethanol mandate increases the cost of food and animal feed and contributes to climate change.

Holding airplane manufacturers accountable for safety: Senator Feinstein called for improving the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX plane and improving FAA oversight of airplane manufacturers in the wake of multiple 737 MAX crashes. Senator Feinstein was one of the first to call for the grounding of the aircraft model until the cause of the crashes was identified.

Protecting oceans and public lands from oil extraction: Senator Feinstein introduced the West Coast Protection Act to prohibit offshore drilling on the West Coast and, following a pipeline leak outside Bakersfield, led calls for safer drilling practices that culminated in a state ban on steam-injected drilling.

Supporting foster families and families receiving child welfare: Senator Feinstein’s bill to fill the gap in critical child welfare funding for California counties was included in the Family First Transition Act that passed last year. California’s Title IV-E Waiver was set to expire and the significant drop in funding levels would have disrupted the robust child welfare services California’s counties provide. The transition bill will protect counties from financial shortfalls and support their wonderful work as they adapt to new requirements meant to keep children with their families rather than placing them in foster homes.

Increasing diversity in NIH clinical trials: Senator Feinstein’s included language in the fiscal 2020 spending bill to help reduce barriers to clinical trial participation for minority groups by directing the National Institutes of Health to revise existing protocol templates and guidelines for clinical trials that receive NIH funding. Racial and ethnic minority groups have been largely underrepresented in clinical trials among adults and evidence shows that irrelevant criteria may be inappropriately excluding these groups. NIH-funded clinical trials will now need to account for variations in health status across racial and ethnic minority groups when determining eligibility criteria.

Guaranteeing federal workers’ pay during government shutdowns: Senator Feinstein co-introduced and passed legislation to guarantee federal employees are paid if a government shutdown occurs. California is home to more than 170,000 federal employees, including approximately 40,000 who were furloughed or working without pay during the most recent government shutdown.

Protecting consumer privacy: In response to mounting concerns about consumer data privacy, Senator Feinstein led a group of her Democratic colleagues to draft and publish a set of core data privacy principles that will form the basis of the Senate Democrats’ approach to comprehensive federal data privacy legislation.

Helping Californians with federal agencies: Senator Feinstein’s casework team worked with Californians who had issues involving federal agencies to return $478,065 in federal benefits to constituents.

Listening to Californians on the issues: In 2019, Senator Feinstein’s office responded to more than 1.29 million letters from constituents and fielded 84,540 phone calls to collect feedback from constituents on a wide range of issues being considered in Congress.