111th Congress

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111th Congress (2009-2010)

Legislative highlights from 2010:

Strengthening national intelligence: Senator Feinstein took a leading role in enacting the first Intelligence Authorization bill in six years. This bill improves oversight of the U.S. Intelligence Community, strengthens the Director of National Intelligence’s ability to manage the intelligence agencies, and improves intelligence acquisition and budgeting practices. The legislation was signed into law on October 7, 2010 (P.L. 111-259).

Promoting renewable energy production:In 2010, Senator Feinstein was a vocal advocate for extending the Treasury Grant Program, a program that has been widely credited with maintaining growth in the renewable energy sector in the midst of an economic downturn. In 2009 and 2010, the program supported $18.2 billion in clean energy investment. A one-year, $3 billion extension was included in the tax cut extension package signed into law on December 17, 2010 (P.L. 111-312).

Combating methamphetamine: Senator Feinstein authored the Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act, which requires all regulated retail sellers of certain listed chemical products used to make methamphetamine to submit self-certifications of compliance to the Attorney General. The bill was signed into law on October 12, 2010 (P.L. 111-268).

Nuclear weapons treaty with Russia: Senator Feinstein was a leading proponent of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, ratified by the Senate in late December 2010 and presided over the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review earlier in the year of the treaty’s monitoring and verification provisions.

Protecting the privacy of Social Security Numbers: As part of Senator Feinstein’s longstanding commitment to preventing identity, she authored the Social Security Number Protection Act. The law will prevent prisoners from working in jobs that give them access to Social Security Numbers and prohibit government entities from printing them on government checks. The bill was signed into law on December 18, 2010 (P.L. 111-318).

Banning cell phones in prisons: In response to the growing problem of crimes being ordered through cell phones in federal prisons, Senator Feinstein joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in introducing legislation to define cell phones as contraband material. Cell phones have increasingly been used in prisons to direct criminal attacks, decide territory for drug distribution and conduct credit card fraud. This law is already responsible for the confiscation of more than 4,000 cell phones. The Cell Phone Contraband Act was signed into law on August 10, 2010 (P.L. 111-225).

Improving Shasta-Trinity National Forest administration: Senator Feinstein introduced legislation to transfer administrative jurisdiction over federal land in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest from the Forest Service to the Bureau of Land Management. The bill makes it easier for people to use and enjoy the popular Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle area and improves the current management of some overlapping federal jurisdictions and inefficient land management. The legislation was signed into law on July 27, 2010 (P.L. 111-206).

Reining in risky banks: Senator Feinstein was an original cosponsor of an amendment that implemented the Volcker rule, prohibiting banks from making risky bets using deposits backed by federal insurance. The amendment was included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law on July 21, 2010 (P.L. 111-203).

Maintaining funding levels for safety net hospitals: Senator Feinstein supported reducing proposed cuts to hospitals that serve a high percentage of Medicaid patients, known as Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospitals. She successfully fought for higher funding levels for these hospitals that serve as an important safety net for low-income populations. Signed into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010 (P.L. 111-148).

Preserving funds for health care professionals in Los Angeles County: Senator Feinstein joined forces with Senator Barbara Boxer in fighting to preserve critical residency slots connected to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Harbor hospital in Los Angeles County. The permanent loss of these residency slots could have left the community with a long-term physician shortage. Signed into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010 (P.L. 111-148).

Legislative highlights from 2009:

Returning damaged lands to health: Senator Feinstein dedicated considerable effort working to preserve some of the nation’s most beautiful regions:

  • Restoring the San Joaquin River: A bill Senator Feinstein authored in 2007 to authorize and fund the historic San Joaquin River restoration settlement to restore and maintain fish populations in the San Joaquin River was included in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which was signed into law on March 30, 2009 (P.L. 111-11).
  • Restoring Lake Tahoe: Senator Feinstein co-sponsored the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which would authorize a broad array of programs to mount an aggressive attack on these threats.  It was blocked from passage by one senator.
  • Restoring the San Francisco Bay: Over the past few years, Senator Feinstein helped secure $32 million in restoration funds as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior. She also introduced the San Francisco Bay Restoration Act, which provide grants for ecosystem restoration projects and habitat improvement for fish, waterfowl, and wildlife.

Bolstering firefighting and hazardous fuels reduction: As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Senator Feinstein helped enact more than $3.5 billion for wildland firefighting and fire risk reduction programs by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. Funding was included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law on October 30, 2009 (P.L. 111-88).

Championing federal funds for water projects: Senator Feinstein helped secure vital funds to address California’s water challenges, including:

  • $390 million for water infrastructure and drought relief projects in California (enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).
  • $40 million to CalFed (enacted in the 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations Act).
  • $10 million in federal funds for efforts that could deliver more water to the Central Valley in the near-term (enacted in the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations Act).

Water recycling efforts: Senator Feinstein successfully advocated for the inclusion of four key water projects in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which was signed into law on March 30, 2009 (P.L. 111-11).

  • The Madera Water Supply Enhancement Project will be completed under an already existing cooperative agreement.
  • Two projects in the greater Los Angeles region—part of a regional plan developed by water districts in Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties—will increase the region’s water supply by 31,000 acre-feet per year, enough water for 64,000 households.
  • The North Bay Water Reuse Program authorized the construction of pipelines to irrigate local vineyards with recycled water from five wastewater treatment facilities, generating up to 30,000 acre-feet annually of reclaimed water.
  • The Riverside Corona Feeder Project authorized a new water supply project that will capture and store up to 40,000 acre feet of new water for Riverside County, providing water to approximately 320,000 people.

Protecting the privacy of college students: Senator Feinstein introduced an amendment to credit card reform legislation that requires colleges to publically disclose any contracts or other marketing agreements with credit card issuers. The amendment also prohibits card issuers that operate on or near campuses from offering "tangible items” to induce students to apply for open end credit plans. Social Security Numbers are widely used by identity thieves to take on another identity. The amendment was included in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which was signed into law on May 22, 2009 (P.L. 111-24).

Extending Medicaid payments to states: Senator Feinstein successfully advocated for a six-month extension of the Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which meant the federal government reimbursed California at a higher rate for the health care of individuals eligible for Medicaid. California received approximately $10 billion in enhanced FMAP funds. Signed into law as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009 (P.L. 111-5).

Enhancing passenger rail safety: Senator Feinstein successfully advocated for the first $50 million of a new railroad safety technology grant program. The program, created following the Chatsworth train crash, was designed to help implement safety measures such as Positive Train Control anti-collision technology on America’s commuter railroads. Funding was included in the fiscal year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 16, 2009 (P.L. 111-117).

Restricting cluster bombs: Senator Feinstein joined Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to author language restricting sale or transfer of cluster bombs. The measure was intended to reduce civilian deaths and suffering caused by these weapons. Signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act on December 16, 2009 (P.L. 111-117).

Other highlights from the 111th Congress:

Working to confirm qualified professionals to enforce and administer the law: Senator Feinstein recommended three U.S. District Judges who were confirmed by the Senate for federal judicial seats in California. They are U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, and U.S. District Judge Josephine S. Tucker. She also recommended and helped secure confirmations of U.S. Attorneys Andre Birotte and Ben Wagner and U.S. Marshals Steven Stafford and Don O’Keefe. She also played a key role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Influencing intelligence community policy: Senator Feinstein successfully influenced several key Administration decisions related to the Intelligence Community, including the Executive Order limiting interrogation techniques to the Army Field Manual, the CIA decision to ban contractors from conducting interrogations, and the decision to decrease the number of contractors used by intelligence agencies.

Reforming and improving the intelligence community: As chairman, Senator Feinstein led an Intelligence Committee investigation into the attempted Christmas Day 2009 attack aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit. The committee found 14 intelligence failures and recommended changes throughout the intelligence community, which were overwhelmingly adopted by the executive branch.

Safeguarding baby and consumer products: During the 111th Congress, Senator Feinstein championed the cause of banning the chemical Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, from children's food and beverage containers. After introducing a broader bill to ban BPA from all food and beverage containers, Senator Feinstein worked to reach an agreement during consideration of the food safety legislation which targeted baby bottles and sippy cups. However, she was forced to withdraw the amendment when chemical lobbying groups swayed Republicans to oppose it.

Drought response: In the winter and spring of 2010, Senator Feinstein convened emergency meetings that brought together major stakeholders to address the California water crisis, including farmers, ranchers, and state and federal water and wildlife officials. These meetings resulted in administrative measures that significantly increased the water supply for Central and Southern California.

Battling narcotics in Afghanistan: As Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Senator Feinstein directed the production of a report titled “U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy in Afghanistan.” This bipartisan report was approved by all seven members of the caucus who recognize that the success of the military effort in Afghanistan depends upon the success of the counternarcotics strategy.

Blocking unreasonable health insurance rate hikes: Senator Feinstein was also a strong proponent for a health insurance rate review process that could protect consumers from unreasonable health insurance rate increases. She introduced legislation to ensure that either state regulators or the Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to prevent health insurance companies from imposing unfair, double-digit premium rate increases even as they reap huge profits.

Pipeline safety: In response to the deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., Senator Feinstein joined Senator Boxer in introducing legislation that would strengthen pipeline safety and enforcement and increase penalties for violators. The Commerce Committee held a hearing on the bill.

Promoting high speed rail: Senator Feinstein was a vocal champion of the federal High Speed Rail Program. California voters have approved a public-private partnership to build a high speed rail corridor linking Northern and Southern California. Through 2010, California set aside approximately $5.5 billion in federal and state funds for the first phases of the rail line.