117th Congress

Accomplishments in the Senate: 1993-2021

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117th Congress Accomplishments – First Session (2021)

Confirming qualified, diverse judicial nominees: Senator Feinstein recommended numerous candidates to the Biden administration for positions on the federal bench. In 2021, the following Feinstein recommendations were confirmed to federal judgeships:

  • Lucy Koh, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Jennifer Thurston, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • Maame Frimpong, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  • Linda Lopez, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Jinsook Ohta, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California 
Protecting California’s access to federal aid: In October 2021, the Department of Labor determined a California pension law prevented California’s ability to receive federal transit dollars, despite previous court rulings against attempts to strip California’s transit funding. Senators Feinstein and Padilla lobbied Secretary Marty Walsh to reverse the department’s course and restore the state’s access to transit funding. In December 2021, a federal court restored California’s access to federal transit grants.

Support for homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area: Senator Feinstein worked with Representative Ted Lieu to secure enactment of the West LA VA Campus Improvement Act (Signed into law June 2021, Public Law No: 117-18). The legislation authorizes the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to use funds generated through land use-agreements at the West LA VA campus for the development of supportive housing and services.

Improving California’s drought resiliency: In the bipartisan infrastructure law, Senator Feinstein authored provisions that will provide $8.3 billion to improve drought resiliency in the West, of which half is expected to go to California. The $8.3 billion includes:
  • $3.2 billion for repairing aging Bureau of Reclamation infrastructure.
  • $1.15 billion for water storage projects above and below ground.
  • $1 billion for water recycling projects.
  • $900 million for ecosystem restoration and water conservation projects.
  • $500 million for dam safety.
  • $250 million for desalination projects.
  • $300 million for water conservation efforts on the Colorado River.

Fighting against the severe risk of wildfire: Provisions to reduce the risk of wildfires from Senator Feinstein’s Wildfire Emergency Act were enacted as part of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law. Senator Feinstein helped secure:
  • $3.37 billion for wildfire risk reduction projects in California including hazardous fuels reduction, controlled burns, community wildfire defense grants, collaborative landscape forest restoration projects and funding for firefighting resources.
  • $2.13 billion for the Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service to carry out and fund ecological restoration projects on public and private lands.
  • $5 billion for utilities and grid operators to bury power lines and install fire-resistant technologies to reduce wildfires and expand the use of electricity micro grids to reduce disturbances caused by voluntary power shutoffs.
  • Incentives for public utilities commissions to create programs to reduce electricity consumption during periods of high demand such as heat waves.
  • $3.5 billion for the weatherization assistance program to help homeowners make energy efficient and fire-resistant improvements to their homes.

Senator Feinstein helped secure an additional $175 million for the removal of hazardous wildfire fuels and $175 million to rehabilitate burned land as part of the September 2021 continuing budget resolution.

Ensuring fair pay for federal wildland firefighters: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to raise the pay for federal wildland firefights to be commensurate with that of CalFire firefighters. As part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, Senator Feinstein secured $600 million for firefighters from the Interior Department and Agriculture Department. This resulted in pay raises for federal firefighters up to $20,000. Senator Feinstein also authored a provision requiring the Office of Personnel Management to create an occupational series for wildland firefighters. 

Supporting survivors of domestic violence: Senator Feinstein led a Senate resolution reaffirming the Senate’s commitment to supporting survivors of domestic violence and designated October 2021 as “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” 

Cleaning up the Tijuana River Valley in San Diego: Senators Feinstein and Padilla authored the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, which would designate the EPA as the lead agency to coordinate all federal, state and local agencies to build and maintain needed infrastructure projects to decrease pollution along the border. As part of the 2019 United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, Congress allocated $325 million to address cross-border sewage flows. In November 2021, the EPA announced a multi-step plan, consistent with the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, to address the problem. 

Building a year-round federal firefighting force: As climate change continues to exacerbate drought in California, the wildfire season has become year-round. Senator Feinstein authored a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to convert 1,000 seasonal firefighters to year-round positions.

Lifting the overtime pay cap for federal firefighters: As part of the September 2021 continuing budget resolution, Senator Feinstein authored a provision to waive the federal overtime pay cap for firefighters in 2021. This ensures that firefighters who work hundreds of extra hours defending communities against wildfires will get paid the overtime they deserve rather than having their pay capped at an arbitrary level. 

Cutting down on harmful greenhouse gases: Senators Feinstein and Padilla wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on May 13, 2021, urging the administration use California’s ambitious standards to strengthen federal regulations on the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). In September 2021, the administration announced stricter regulations of HFCs, building off California’s framework of regulations. 

Hardening the American financial system against climate change threats: Senator Feinstein authored the Addressing Climate Financial Risk Act to help prepare the United States for potential threats climate change poses to the financial system. Following its introduction, the Biden administration issued an executive order directing the Treasury to study climate-related financial risk. This executive order included several provisions from the Addressing Climate Financial Risk Act

Increasing California’s water storage and recycling capacity: In the September 2021 continuing budget resolution, Senator Feinstein helped secure:

  • $200 million for the Bureau of Reclamation for immediate drought relief.
  • $238 million to improve California’s drought resilience, including
    • $205 million for storage projects
    • $80 million for Sites Reservoir
    • $60 million for BF Sisk Dam Raise
    • $50 million for Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion
    • $15 million for Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir
    • $21 million for nine water recycling projects in California
    • $12 million for four desalination projects in California

National Museum of the Surface Navy: Senator Feinstein introduced legislation in the Senate to designate the Battleship Iowa Museum, located in the Port of Los Angeles, as the National Museum of the Surface Navy. The legislation became law as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

Celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month: Senator Feinstein joined the entire Senate Democratic Caucus on a resolution that designated June as “LGBTQ Pride Month.” Senator Feinstein introduced the first Senate pride month resolution in 2017 and helped lead it every year since. 

Protecting Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego: Senator Feinstein authored legislation to prevent the closure of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act required the Marine Corps to review its two recruit training locations, San Diego and Parris Island, S.C., for possible relocation. Senator Feinstein’s provision became law as part of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

Encouraging workforce development: Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of Americans were forced to adapt their work habits. Senator Feinstein led a Senate resolution that encouraged investment in education and skills training and designated September as “National Workforce Development Month.”

Recognizing women’s history: Following the 2020 passage of their legislation to create the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum, Senators Feinstein and Collins led a resolution that designated March 2021 as “Women’s History Month.” 

Promoting cancer research: Senator Feinstein led a Senate resolution that designated May 2021 as National Cancer Research Month and expressed support to establish cancer research as a national and international priority. 

Bolstering security of the Capitol: Senator Feinstein cosponsored the Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act of 2021, legislation to address inefficiencies in the security of the Capitol following the January 6 insurrection. This legislation gives the Capitol Police authority to request assistance from the DC National Guard, an ability the police did not have on January 6, delaying response time. The bill was signed into law by President Biden in December 2021. 

Supporting survivors of sexual assault: Senators Feinstein and Grassley led a resolution that designated May 2021 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Stopping a casino in Vallejo opposed by the local community: When the Department of the Interior was reconsidering its original decision denying an Indian tribe’s request to develop an off-reservation casino in Vallejo, Senator Feinstein wrote Interior a letter urging the Department to hold to its original decision. After receiving the senator’s letter, Interior reaffirmed its decision to block the casino. 

Updating boat safety regulations: Following the horrific Conception boat fire that killed 34 passengers off the coast of California in 2019, Senator Feinstein authored the Small Passenger Vessel Safety Act, which was signed into law as part of the 2020 NDAA. In February 2021, the Coast Guard announced the development of new regulations as was directed by Senator Feinstein’s bill, including requiring smoke detectors and interconnected fire alarms, having two means of escape and implementation of roving watch and safety management systems.

Assisting an Indian Tribe’s efforts to hold an organizing election: Following two letters from Senator Feinstein, the Bureau of Indian Affairs moved forward to organize an election for the California Valley Miwok tribe, allowing the tribe to elect its own representatives to govern itself as a sovereign nation. 

Supporting the U.S. flower industry: Senator Feinstein led a Senate resolution that encouraged Americans to buy domestically grown flowers and foliage. The resolution designated July as “American Grown Flower and Foliage Month” and recognized the more than 16,000 floral businesses across the country.

Promoting sustainable fishing practices: The Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, authored by Senator Feinstein, would phase-out large-scale driftnet fishing and adapts alternative fishing practices that minimize the incidental catch of marine life. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent in September 2021. The House Natural Resources Committee passed the bill out of committee by voice vote, but the bill had not been considered by the full House by the end of the first session of Congress.

Addressing rising use of methamphetamine: Senators Feinstein and Grassley introduced the Methamphetamine Response Act, a bill that would designate methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat and direct the Office of National Drug Control Policy to implement a plan within 90 days of the bill’s passage to address it. The legislation passed the Senate and was voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by voice vote, but did not pass the full House before the end of the first session. 

Ensuring access to Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center: Senator Feinstein and Congressman Raul Ruiz introduced a bill to improve access to the Indian Health Service's Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center in Hemet, Calif. The bill authorizes the Indian Health Service to purchase the land at fair market value from willing sellers and repave the dirt road to the facility. The bill passed the Senate, but did not pass the House before the end of the first session.

Championing protections for racehorses: Following the death of racehorse Medina Spirit, Senator Feinstein sent a letter to the California Horse Racing Association, calling on them to examine the cause of death.

Preventing horse slaughter: Senator Feinstein called on the Bureau of Land Management to conduct a thorough investigation into disturbing allegations that mistreated wild horses put up for adoption under a federal program were instead sent to slaughterhouses. The Bureau committed to improve their screening process and increase inspections of adopted wild horses. 

Keeping airplane passenger’s health safe: In line with the recommendations of public health experts, Senator Feinstein introduced the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act to require airline passengers to provide proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test or proof of recent recovery from previous infection before flying. 

Preparing the United States for future pandemics: Senator Feinstein led the introduction of bipartisan legislation, to establish a 9/11-style national commission to investigate the facts and circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and recommend measures to prevent a similar outbreak in the future. 

Listening to Californians: In 2021, Senator Feinstein’s office responded to nearly 4.5 million emails and letters and fielded more than 150,000 phone calls, receiving input from Californians on congressional issues. 

Assisting Californians with federal agencies: Senator Feinstein’s casework team helped return more than $15 million in benefits to Californians who were facing obstacles with federal agencies.