What are your thoughts following the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that left six dead and many more wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona)?
My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and her constituents. As this tragic event has touched us here at home in a variety of ways, our thoughts are also with the family and friends of Gabriel Zimmerman, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, and by all accounts an individual that touched the lives of many people through his dedicated community service.
A colleague and friend, Gabrielle is a dedicated and focused public servant who has provided a new voice dedicated to addressing issues in her district and across the country. In her young congressional career, Gabrielle has also become a friend to the Central Coast. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, she visited our area to tour the Defense Language Institute where she praised the work of this institute and its students—and the critical role they are playing in securing our country.
This terrible act of senseless violence is a national tragedy that has reached people across our country. This violent act has unsettled our society’s foundation, and threatens to undermine the way elected officials interact with their constituents. But during times like these, we are reminded of the importance of not only safeguarding against violent incidents from occurring, but also to protecting the vital line of communications between citizens and its government.
As we mourn and remember the loss of innocent lives and await news of recovery for Congresswoman Giffords and those injured, I urge you to continue to keep in your thoughts and prayers their families, and all of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff and others who have fallen victim to his unthinkable crime.
You have a survey on your website that asks, “What do you believe the No. 1
priority of congress should be in the new year?” Which priorities are leading the pack?
I want to start by thanking the folks who took the time to participate in our web survey. I really enjoy hearing from constituents, as it allows me to stay directly connected to the important issues affecting the Central Coast. I want to encourage you to continue to engage with my office by visiting my website at farr.house.gov, or by phone or email. I also want to invite you all to join me on Facebook and Twitter to keep our conversation going.
Our end of the year survey overwhelmingly showed that the economy and jobs continue to be the issues of top concern, and as such, participants designated the issue as the top priorities for the 112th Congress. For that reason, as Americans continue to suffer from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, I will continue my efforts to support legislation that is aimed at getting our economy moving and putting people back to work.
But due to the efforts of Democratic-led Congress of the last two years, we have seen progress. As the economy began to show signs of an economic recovery in the last year, the Recovery Act—passed by Congress in 2008—continued to funnel much needed funds into our communities. In total, the Central Coast has received close to $300,000,000 in stimulus funds, in addition to being awarded more than 500 grants and contracts all geared towards stimulating our local economy and getting people back to work.
Additionally, before it was signed by the President, the Democratic-led 111th Congress passed the HIRE Act—bipartisan legislation that pumped $17.6 billion into our economy in the way of incentives for business to hire unemployed workers, an extension of the Highway Trust Fund to strengthen investment in infrastructure and tax cuts for small business in an effort to spur growth.
But as families continue to feel the lingering affects of high unemployment and foreclosure rates, it is clear we need to do more. The 112th Congress needs to continue to focus on investing in training and resources that create jobs, and deliver relief to millions of struggling families. Unfortunately, the new Republican majority, so far, has just shown interest in talking about job creation—and not actually about doing something about it.
As I did in my days in Sacramento and under 12 years of GOP control, I remain committed to working on bipartisan legislation that address the dire concerns of unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet. In addition, to legislation that moves our economy towards recovery. But in the wake of Republican agendas that seem targeted at tax breaks for the rich and repealing health care reform, I remain cautious and concerned about what can be accomplished.
In November, the voters sent a strong message that they want Congress to drop partisan politics and get to work putting jobs and our economy first. I hope the new majority have heard Americans’ concerns, and our ready to actually govern for all.