Accomplishments in the Senate: 1993-2016
113th Congress (2013-2014) | 114th Congress (2015-2016)
112th Congress (2011-2012) | 111th Congress (2009-2010)
After three years of effort, including hundreds of meetings, phone calls and discussions with everyone from federal and state agencies to fishermen and farmers, Senator Feinstein secured passage of bipartisan legislation to respond to California’s five-year drought and modernize the state’s water system.
The bill contains $558 million in long-term authorizations to assist the state in building a new water infrastructure including desalination, recycling and storage projects. The state’s major water infrastructure has not been significantly updated since the 1970s when California’s population was less than half its current size.
The bill also contains short-term provisions to improve the efficiency of the state’s water operations system.
Restoring Lake Tahoe
After seven years of effort, Senator Feinstein, working with Senators Dean Heller, Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer secured passage of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. The bill authorizes $415 million to carry on the work of the original bill, including $45 million for lake-wide aquatic invasive species control and a watercraft inspection program; $113 million for storm water management and watershed restoration projects; $80 million for environmental restoration projects and $150 million for fire risk reduction and forest management programs.
Senator Feinstein and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) authored a provision in the fiscal year 2016 defense authorization bill to ban torture of detainees in U.S. custody. The amendment became law in November 2015 when the authorization bill was signed into law. The law restricts interrogation techniques to those authorized in the Army Field Manual and requires access for the International Committee of the Red Cross to detainees in U.S. government custody.
Protecting the California desert
At Senator Feinstein’s request, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate three new national monuments in the California desert: Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains. The designations, announced in February 2016, protect nearly 1.8 million acres of the California desert.
The national monuments were a major milestone in Feinstein’s decades-long effort to conserve desert land and balance its many uses. Following up on the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, Senator Feinstein introduced updated legislation—with broad support from a wide range of California stakeholders—to build on its legacy.
After five years of working on legislation to improve our nation’s cybersecurity, Senator Feinstein’s legislation with Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was signed into law in December 2015. The legislation, which passed the Senate by a vote of 74-21, encourages the voluntary sharing of information about cyber threats between private companies and the government while protecting personal privacy.
Strengthening security of the Visa Waiver Program
Provisions from Senator Feinstein’s legislation to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program, which allows individuals from 38 countries to travel to the United States without a visa, were signed into law in December 2015.
These provisions require individuals who have traveled to high-risk countries, including Syria and Iraq, to go through the traditional visa process rather than the visa waiver process. This process requires an in-person interview with a U.S. consular official and the collection of fingerprints and photographs. The provisions also require the use of electronic passports, which are more secure and harder to tamper with, as well as improved information-sharing between the United States and participating countries. This is one of several Feinstein proposals to protect the homeland in the face of growing terror threats.
Housing for homeless veterans in Los Angeles
Senator Feinstein secured passage of legislation—the culmination of a 10-year effort—to facilitate more than 1,200 additional units of housing for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles VA by restoring the department’s authority to enter into lease agreements with nonprofit organizations.
Restored leasing authority allows the department to partner with nonprofits to build housing for homeless veterans and expand veterans’ services more quickly and efficiently than it otherwise would be able to.
Senator Feinstein has long worked to transform the West LA campus by securing federal funds to renovate existing buildings to provide housing, and additional health care, mental health and educational services to veterans.
Extending the Breast Cancer Research Stamp
Senator Feinstein’s legislation to renew congressional approval for the Breast Cancer Research stamp through 2019 passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law in December 2015. The stamp has raised more than $81 million for cancer research and more than 1 billion have been sold since its creation in 1998.
Iran nuclear agreement
Senator Feinstein was a key supporter for the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world’s major powers and, along with her colleagues, helped defeat a resolution of disapproval in September 2015 designed to undermine the agreement. The nuclear agreement with Iran verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, a key national security priority for Senator Feinstein.
Senator Feinstein secured $50 million for rail safety in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill, as well as $199 million for commuter rail safety in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, signed into law in December 2015.
Senator Feinstein also successfully negotiated provisions to ensure rapid implementation of Positive Train Control, a lifesaving technology that can prevent rail accidents. This provision was in the short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, signed into law in November 2015.
Reducing demand for human trafficking
Provisions from Senator Feinstein’s legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to reduce the demand for human trafficking were included in the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act and signed into law in May 2015. The provisions increase penalties for buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims; expand reporting on trafficking prosecutions; require training for targeting and prosecuting buyers as well as how to provide victims with health services and restitution; expand wiretapping authority to cover all human trafficking offenses; and strengthen crime victims’ rights.
Cracking down on sex trafficking websites
Senator Feinstein’s amendment with Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to crack down on Internet sites that advertise underage trafficking victims for sex was included in the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act and signed into law in May 2015. The amendment makes it a crime for a person, such as the owner of a website, to knowingly advertise a commercial sex act with a minor.
Feinstein’s amendment targets websites like Backpage, which provides a platform for this type of sex trafficking advertising. The site earns more than $30 million a year from their illicit ads and ultimately contributes to the selling and exploitation of minors.
Strengthening penalties for wildlife trafficking
Provisions from Senator Feinstein’s Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act were included in the END Wildlife Trafficking Act and signed into law. These provisions allow the federal government to prosecute high-value criminal violations of wildlife trafficking laws using the money laundering statute. Violations prosecuted under this authority would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Prior to this policy change, violations of most wildlife trafficking laws carried a maximum one-year sentence and low fines, providing little deterrence to would be poachers.
Protecting California National Guard members
Working with Senator Boxer and Congressman Adam Schiff, Senator Feinstein included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act included to permanently halt efforts to claw back reenlistment bonuses and benefits mistakenly paid to California National Guard soldiers a decade ago. According to the Pentagon, almost 10,000 members of the Army National Guard may have received improper benefits from 2004 to 2010.
Promoting trade with Nepal
Senator Feinstein’s amended Nepal Trade Preferences Act was signed into law in February 2016. The legislation allows for the duty-free import of textiles and other handmade items from Nepal, which continues to struggle to recover from devastating earthquakes in April 2015. The legislation is intended to spur economic activity and reconstruction.
Improving the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program
Senator Feinstein’s legislation to require all schools that participate in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship be accredited or in the process of securing accreditation was signed into law in December 2015. The scholarship provides low-income families with funds to send their children to better schools in Washington, D.C.
Assistance for adoptive parents
Senator Feinstein’s legislation, the Adoptive Family Relief Act, was signed into law in October 2015. The bill allows the State Department to waive visa renewal fees for families adopting children from abroad when children are unable to immigrate to the United States in a timely manner.
Improving K-12 education
Senator Feinstein secured a number of provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bill signed into law in December 2015 to reform K-12 education:
- A provision from the Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Act to expand charter schools and provide continued support for existing high-quality charter schools. Feinstein joined Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in introducing the legislation in January 2015.
- A provision from the Helping Schools Protect Our Children Act that would allow schools to use Title II funds to provide training to school personnel on preventing and detecting sexual abuse. Feinstein introduced the legislation with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in May 2015.
- The “Large School Adjustment” provision that would protect funding for large school districts such as San Diego that serve military-connected children.
- An exemption to allow two California schools for homeless children, San Diego’s Monarch School and Stockton’s Transitional Learning Center, to continue to operate and receive federal funds.
- An amendment cosponsored with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to make it easier for homeless students to access federal housing assistance programs by allowing appropriate school faculty to certify they are homeless and eligible for assistance.
- An amendment cosponsored with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) to allow schools to use federal funds to support English learners by providing interpreters, translators and materials in students’ native language.
HELP Committee holds a hearing on personal care products safety
The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on Senators Feinstein and Susan Collins’ Personal Care Products Safety Act—its first hearing on the issue of personal care products safety since the 1970s.
The Senate in November 2015 unanimously passed Senator Feinstein’s amendment with Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to block a harmful rider that would have forced states to allow double 33-foot trailer trucks on their roads and highways. A tractor trailer with two 33-foot trailers measures approximately 91 feet in total length – equivalent to an 8-story office building. Currently, 38 states do not allow these longer trucks to operate within their jurisdictions.
Leading congressional advocacy for marriage equality
In April 2105, Senator Feinstein and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, led the effort to file a congressional amicus brief in the marriage equality cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. A total of 167 representatives and 44 senators signed the brief.
Consumer drone safety
Senator Feinstein defeated efforts to use the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill to block California’s ability to protect public safety and implement safety rules on the use of recreational drones.
Senator Feinstein initiated a federal review of the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak that was a disaster for the community of Porter Ranch. The lessons learned from this disaster will lead to new federal safety regulations so that no other communities are exposed to the same risks.
Pilot Medical Certification
In the Pilot’s Bill of Rights, Senator Feinstein ensured that a physician will still need to periodically sign off on the health of private pilots before they are allowed to fly, reducing the risk that a medical emergency could pose a risk to the pilot, passengers, and people on the ground.
Working with technology companies to combat terrorist content online
Senator Feinstein is deeply concerned about the ability of ISIL and other terrorist organization to recruit and spread their propaganda online. She has written to and met with the leadership of the country’s top technology companies, urging them to take more aggressive action to remove terrorist content, and many have done so voluntarily.
Recognizing human trafficking victims
The Senate in January 2015 unanimously approved a resolution introduced by Senators Feinstein and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to recognize January as National Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Month.
Senator Feinstein secured passage of a provision in the FAA authorization bill to allow the transfer of Ontario International Airport from Los Angeles to Ontario, restoring local control. The transfer allows the airport to be revitalized and reclaim its role as a driver of economic growth for the Inland Empire.
Honoring Corporal Tibor Rubin
Senator Feinstein’s legislation to rename the Long Beach VA facility after Corporal Tibor Rubin, a Holocaust survivor and Korean War hero was signed into law.
Strengthening food safety
At Senator Feinstein’s urging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February 2015 finalized strong new pathogen standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry parts to better protect consumers from foodborne illness.
Earthquake early-warning system
Senator Feinstein secured $8.2 million for California’s earthquake early-warning system in the final 2015 spending bill, in addition to the $5 million she secured the previous year. An integrated, statewide system will help to save lives, reduce property damage and protect critical infrastructure.
Reducing helicopter noise in Los Angeles
The Federal Aviation Administration in April 2015 launched a dedicated helicopter noise complaint system for the Los Angeles County, as required by language Senator Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) included in the omnibus spending bill passed in January 2014.
Funding for California’s veterans
Senator Feinstein secured $563 million in the final 2015 spending bill for various projects at Veterans Affairs facilities in California.
- West Los Angeles: $35 million for the seismic retrofit and renovation of Building 208 to support homeless housing.
- San Francisco: $158 million for seismic retrofits of three buildings, replacement of Building 12 and demolition of three buildings.
- Long Beach: $161 million to demolish two seismically deficient buildings and construct a new Mental Health Facility, parking structure and utility plant.
- Livermore: $139 million to purchase land and construct a new outpatient clinic in Fremont, as well as a new outpatient clinic in Stockton/French Camp.
- Alameda: $70 million to construct a new outpatient clinic and administrative offices.
Funding California infrastructure
Senator Feinstein secured $761 million in the final 2015 spending bill for several major public transit projects:
- $100 million for Los Angeles’ Purple Line Subway, for the first of a three phase expansion to connect Union Station to Westwood and the West Los Angeles VA campus.
- $100 million for Los Angeles’ Regional Connector, a two-mile underground project connecting the Gold and Blue subway lines.
- $150 million for San Francisco’s Third Street Light Rail/Central Subway, a project to connect Bayshore in the south to Chinatown in the north.
- $150 million for the BART extension to Silicon Valley, a 10-mile project to extend BART from Fremont to Berryessa Road in San Jose.
- $200 million for the second phase of Los Angeles’ Purple Line Subway and San Diego’s Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail project that would connect downtown San Diego to University City.
- $20 million for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit’s San Rafael to Larkspur light rail project.
- $30 million for San Francisco’s Bus Rapid Transit along Van Ness Avenue.
- $11 million for the Fresno Blackstone/Kings Canyon Bus Rapid Transit project.