All posts by RepHildaSolis

Putting Families First – Working Families Deserve an Economic Recovery Package

The credit crisis in our financial markets affects everyone from Wall Street to small businesses. With the U.S. and global economies continuing to falter, I believe more must be done to rebuild our economy, create good-paying jobs, and promote consumer confidence. That is why I am working with my colleagues in Congress to pass an economic recovery package in the near future that will support America’s working families as they struggle to make ends meet with rising food and energy costs. I hope the Bush Administration’s parting gift will be to enact an economic recovery package that puts families first.

Congress needs to work together in a bipartisan way to address the economic crisis impacting American families when we reconvene in November.  Unemployment remains very high in California, with 7.7% of workers out of a job.  In East Los Angeles, unemployment topped 10% during August and September.  Without Congressional action, about 800,000 people would run out of their benefits this month, with that number growing to 1.1 million by the end of the year. Extending unemployment benefits is not only the right thing to do for workers impacted by President Bush’s failed economic policies, but is also a cost-effective and fast-acting economic stimulus.  Every $1 spent generates $1.73 in new economic demand.  We also need to protect working families against health care cuts on the state levels as state and local governments face budget crises.

House Democratic leaders have been working with America’s leading economists to develop effective solutions to our economic slowdown.  These economists recommended an economic recovery plan that focuses on creating jobs and providing real relief to families in need.  This week, the Bush Administration finally showed signs of compromise when Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke told the House Budget Committee that he thinks a stimulus may be needed.

House Democrats are ready and willing to work together to pass a new economic stimulus package for American families in this time of great need.  In September, the House passed a stimulus bill to create jobs with infrastructure funding, extend Food Stamps nutrition assistance to families living on the edge, prevent healthcare cuts for working families, and extend unemployment benefits to Americans still looking for work and facing a loss of their benefits.  This stimulus package was blocked by Senate Republicans, and had it passed the Senate, President Bush threatened a veto.

As the economic crisis becomes more severe and the strain on our family budgets even greater, Congress and the Bush Administration must act to help out everyday Americans with an economic recovery package.  Unemployment benefits need to be extended.  We need to create jobs now and bolster the safety-net services like Medicaid and food assistance due to the increased need among working families. We must fund workforce training programs, such as green jobs training, so workers have skills for secure, stable employment.

I am working with my colleagues to keep our economy from spiraling further into recession.  I hope that President Bush and the Senate will commit to the same goal of enacting a package that puts families first and strengthens the economy for all Americans.  


The Fight for Main Street

Yesterday I voted against H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA), compromise legislation to bailout financial institutions saddled with large debts.

While the Bush Administration worked with Congressional leaders to fast-track this legislation, it was indifferent to the needs of Main Street. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for legislation that gives $700 billion to the same firms that helped cause the current financial crisis through irresponsible lending without providing meaningful help for homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure.

The economic crisis facing our nation began with bad mortgage and lending practices, including the use of predatory and sub-prime mortgages. It was these sub-prime mortgages which were then transformed by the market into securities and sold around the world. In the 32nd Congressional District of California which I represent, housing foreclosures have nearly tripled in the past few months. Over 1,500 families have lost their homes and over 2,300 are going through the foreclosure process.

The impact of such widespread foreclosures on our local economy and community is devastating. Homeowners living near foreclosed properties could see their property values decrease by an average of $5,000. It is expected that nationwide more than $100 billion in housing wealth will be lost through 2009 in foreclosures and their effects on neighboring properties. $166 billion in gross domestic product could be lost as a result of foreclosures, a loss that will lead to 524,000 fewer jobs being created.

Homeownership is a foundation that strengthens our families, stabilizes our communities, and boosts our economy. Yet, this bill lacked needed reform of bankruptcy laws to allow consumers to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage in bankruptcy courts to help keep their homes. Without addressing bankruptcy, provisions in the bill aimed at stemming foreclosures are not enough to provide real relief to struggling homeowners.

Homeowners on Main Streets should have the same rights to renegotiate their loans, especially those for their primary residence, as Wall Street. That is why it is critical that any solution to this financial crisis address the underlying instability in the housing market and provide relief for homeowners struggling under the burden of excessive mortgage debt. In addition to changes in the bankruptcy laws, I believe there should also be a mandatory moratorium on foreclosures for the limited period of time before the rescue plan takes effect.  If we are going to help keep banks solvent, we should also consider creating a fund to help families facing foreclosure stay in their homes.

I agree with civil rights organizations which today called on the leadership to also include an aggressive approach that will allow parties to modify the terms of their loans before these loans are purchased by the federal government. This approach would not only help keep families in their homes but would keep taxpayers from acquiring unnecessary debt.

I also believe working families deserve enactment of the Main Street Economic Stimulus Package, which I was proud to vote for last week. This bill would have extended unemployment benefits for the growing number of Americans looking for work for an additional seven weeks. It would have helped to sustain the safety net of services for our country’s neediest families by providing additional Food Stamp and Medicaid assistance.  It is incredibly disappointing that in the face of skyrocketing unemployment and increased need for food and healthcare assistance, the Bush Administration is instead prioritizing a huge cash infusion for Wall Street instead of needed investments for our country’s working families.

Congress and the Administration need to focus on real regulatory reform on Wall Street and real help for homeowners who face foreclosure.  We must enact bankruptcy court protections for foreclosures on primary residences.  We must pass comprehensive financial sector reform to restore integrity and stability to our financial system.  We must address the root of this financial crisis in order to prevent future problems. And we must grow jobs by investing in our nation’s infrastructure and funding green collar jobs training.

These are the actions that Congress must take to produce widespread and meaningful reform in our financial sector, provide a lifeboat for the thousands of families facing foreclosure, and provide economic security for families across our nation. These are the actions that I will support.

Message to the Governor: Leave State Workers Alone

(27 members of the California Congressional delegation weigh in.  Thanks, Rep. Solis.  Slight edit to move things over to the flip. – promoted by David Dayen)

I’m appalled that Governor Schwarzenegger thinks cutting wages for state workers’ is the way to fix our budget.  Today, 26 of my colleagues in Congress joined me in sending the below letter to the Governor and expressing strong opposition to his misguided plan.  Join me in calling on the Governor to leave state workers alone.

July 25, 2008

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

As Members of the Congress representing California, we write to express our strong opposition to your proposed plan to cut the wages of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour as a temporary budget savings.  The earnings of hardworking state employees should not be leveraged for political gain in the current budget stalemate.  


In May 2007, Congress passed the first increase in the federal minimum wage in ten years.  On July 24, 2008, the second phase of the increased federal minimum wage began, raising the federal minimum wage to $6.55.  While the increases to the federal minimum wage are an improvement for hourly workers, they do not make up for the recent and rapid increases in food, energy and healthcare costs, which have risen even higher in California.  In addition, our state has been disproportionately impacted by the nationwide foreclosure crisis and statewide unemployment just reached 6.9 percent.  Working families in California who are employed by the state simply cannot afford to have their salary reduced to the federal minimum wage during these incredibly hard economic times, even with the promise of back pay once the budget negotiations are completed.  

We have always been incredibly proud to represent California because our state sets the standard for fair wages in the United States.  The $8 per hour minimum wage in California, as well as municipal living wage laws, set a benchmark for the rest of the country.  By reducing state workers pay to $6.55 per hour, you would not only hurt the 200,000 workers who serve California, but you would also hurt the reputation of California as one of the best states to live and work in the United States.

As Members of the California Congressional delegation, we understand that our state is facing significant budget challenges.  However, the California state controller has already stated that cutting workers’ salaries will “do nothing meaningful to improve our cash position or help us make our priority payments.”  We strongly urge you to reconsider your plan to cut 200,000 state workers wages to the federal minimum wage.  






























FISA Compromise Still Backdoor Immunity for Telecomm Providers

(Rep. Solis is one of the good ones. – promoted by David Dayen)

I share the concern raised by many on this blog about the FISA Amendments Act, especially the immunity it provides telecomm providers.  That I why I voted against the bill on Friday.  Below is my official statement.

“Today, the House of Representatives passed the FISA Amendments Act, which I voted against.  I am deeply concerned the legislation will provide an enormous loophole for those telephone companies that participated in the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.  We cannot allow backdoor immunity for telecommunications providers who spied on Americans and broke the public trust.  

“The constituents of the 32nd Congressional District and many more from around the country have spoken loud and clear that any form of immunity for telecommunications providers is unacceptable and I wholeheartedly agree.  We must work harder to not only fight against terrorism and threats to our country but also to respect our constituents’ civil liberties and the values upon which country was founded.”


Bring the Troops Home

(Let’s keep our eyes on the ball here, people. – promoted by David Dayen)

It’s been another interesting week in Washington, with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker asking Congress to maintain current troops levels.  Their plea comes despite the lack of security stabilization and political progress by the Iraqi government.

The conditions in Iraq continue to worsen. Newly released figures by the military indicate that the number of attacks against civilians and American and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad have more than doubled in March over the previous month.  There has also been an increase of sectarian violence in other large cities and provinces. The Green Zone has become the target of a wave of increased violence and casualties.  Our troops and our nation continue to make sacrifices for an Iraq that is unable to secure its people and unwilling to reach political reconciliation.        

Meanwhile, the cost of staying the failed course in Iraq continues to take a toll on our troops, their families, the American taxpayers, our national security, and our homeland defense readiness.  The war on Iraq has claimed the lives of nearly 4,017 and close to 30,000 servicemen and women have been injured or permanently disabled.  More than half of those will not be able to lead a normal life because of the severity of their injuries impacting not only them but also their families.  Yet, we continue to burden our troops and their families with the all too common multiple tours of duty and extended 15 month tours. Since the war in Iraq began, we have spent more than $500 billion, unnecessarily risking financial security and reducing needed domestic investments in priorities such as health care and education.  

The American people are frustrated and want a new direction in Iraq and an end to the war.  I agree.  This grave situation requires a policy to secure and stabilize Iraq, one that constructively engages in diplomacy and partners with neighboring countries and the region to create a stable and peaceful nation, and one that supports our service men and women by redeploying them from Iraq – not a strategy to keep more of our men and women in harm’s way. I will continue to work with my colleagues to bring an end to this war and bring our troops home.

Where Was the U.S. at the UN’s Major Global Warming Meeting?

(Seriously, is there anybody as cool as Hilda Solis? (Well, maybe there are a few others who are tied.) She always supports progressive goals and organizations and pursues policy for policy’s sake. Too bad we can’t say that of all of our Representatives. Thank you Representative Solis. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

This morning I spoke on the House floor to ask why President Bush didn’t allow the United States to take part in the United Nation’s major Global Warming discussion this week.  You can watch my floor statement on my YouTube page here.

EDIT by Brian: Flip for more.

During my floor remarks, I spoke about how the world came together earlier this week at the United Nations to discuss the need to take action against climate change. The United Nations Secretary General stated, “I am convinced that climate change and what we do about it will define us, our era and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations.”

Our global legacy cannot afford a legacy of inaction, which is the legacy of the Bush Administration.

The United States is the largest emitter of global warming pollution in the world. Our activity impacts human health and security. Without a mandatory agreement the costs of climate change will continue to be socialized. This means that while polluting industries benefit, the health of vulnerable communities in the United States and around the world will suffer. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration continues to bury its head in the sand, organizing summits to discuss “aspirational goals” and delaying real action.

The science is certain. Business as usual cannot go on. We must commit to mandatory reductions in order to protect health, environment, and security around the world. Our cities, states and Democrats in Congress are leading by example and I hope the Administration will join us. Vulnerable communities in the United States and around the world deserve nothing less.


Global Warming Forum at Cal State LA on Aug. 16th

(Rep. Solis for President! Ok, maybe it’s too late for that. How about Governor? – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Tomorrow I'm hosting a forum on Global Warming at Cal State LA from 9am-3pm where I will bring together environmentalists, labor unions, small businesses, cities, schools and community residents to discuss the local challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.  Speakers will include Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board.

EDIT by Brian: See the extended for more details on what sounds like a really cool event.

A segment of the discussion tomorrow will focus on an issue of great importance to me – the promise of millions of “green collar jobs” that could be created through investment in clean technology.  These good paying and mostly union jobs would greatly benefit communities like mine, where the unemployment rate continues to run above the national average and those with jobs are struggling to make ends meet. 

On August 2nd, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847), legislation I introduced to authorize $125 million for job training in the renewable energy industries, such as solar and wind power.  The bill was passed on August 2nd as part of the Democrats' New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act.  The training assistance provided by the bill would be targeted to veterans, at risk youth, and displaced employees, and would help promote programs such as the one at the East Los Angeles Skills Center where individuals are being taught to install solar installation panels.  Training for green collar jobs will open the door for these workers to mostly union and well-paying jobs. 

If you cannot join me at Cal State LA tomorrow for the Forum, I hope you will work with me and my colleagues in Congress and those at the local level to bring the issue of global warming to the forefront and to highlight the promise of green collar jobs.  For more information, I encourage you to visit my website at and the website for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming at

Green Jobs – Moving Our Nation’s Workforce Forward in a Green Energy Economy

(Like Al Gore has always said, the climate crisis is both a danger and an opportunity. As an aside, here at yKos, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid were held up by Shrub’s FISA demands. We here at Calitics wish Rep. Solis the best of luck in helping to advocate a reasonable and balanced approach towards the use of eavesdropping. Rep. Solis is always somebody we can count on to work for good, progressive public policy. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Well, the Republican Minority is intent on obstructing our progress on important health, appropriations, and energy bills, so we find ourselves in session on this Saturday morning.

Today the House is considering H.R. 3220, The New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act.  I’m very pleased that Title I of this comprehensive bill is the Green Jobs Act, legislation (H.R. 2847) I introduced to authorize $125 million for workforce training targeted at veterans, displaced workers, and individuals – including at risk youth – who seek employment pathways out of poverty. Training would be for jobs in such sectors as green building, energy efficiency and retrofit – jobs that can lead to self-sufficiency and prosperity through higher wages, access to benefits and more career choices.

The Green Jobs Act also creates groundbreaking “Pathways Out of Poverty” grants to specifically target individuals in families under 200 percent of the federal poverty line or self-sufficiency standard for local areas where the training occurs.  The Pathways Out of Poverty grants will help ensure that this new and profitable green collar sector of the American workforce is open to all Americans, regardless of their current income level.  With proper training and targeted work force investment, we can help retrain existing workers whose current jobs are becoming obsolete and lift low-income workers out of poverty and into the expanding field of green collar jobs.

The strength of our nation’s economy depends on the availability of a highly skilled and well trained workforce. We owe it to future generations to have the courage and commitment to choose a path toward a sustainable, secure energy future through a commitment to a green collar economy.

I look forward to the House passing this important legislation today and urge you to contact President Bush to express your support for it too.

Tri-Caucus Minority Health Summit this Weekend in San Diego

(Great to see Rep. Solis, one of the most progressive members of Congress, posting here. Come back often! – promoted by dday)

Hello to my friends at Calitics! 

The 5th Annual Congressional Tri-Caucus Minority Health Summit will be held this weekend in San Diego.  This year’s Summit is being hosted by the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, with support from The California Endowment and others.  At least twelve members of the Congressional Hispanic, Black, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses are scheduled to attend, including Reps. John Conyers (MI-14), Raul Grijalva (AZ-7), and Mike Honda (CA-15).

Five years ago, I conceived the idea of the Tri-Caucus Minority Health Summit as a forum for members of Congress to hear firsthand about the health challenges facing communities of color and innovative solutions to address them.  Indeed, the need to reduce health disparities is great.  Despite recent gains in health care, disparities related to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status remain prevalent.  For example, more than 70% of Latinos across the country are considered overweight or obese, including 25% of Latino children.  In 2005, 86% of babies born with HIV and AIDS were of color. 

The Summit will cover topics such as SCHIP, homelessness, tobacco cessation, veterans’ health, and HIV/AIDS.  It also will include discussion of H.R. 3014, comprehensive, bi-partisan legislation I introduced last week with Congresswomen Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands) and Madeleine Bordallo (Guam) to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.  H.R. 3014 has 70 original co-sponsors, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC-6).

Over 200 people are expected to attend this weekend’s Summit in San Diego.  As Chair of the Hispanic Caucus’ Task Force on Health and a member of the House Health Subcommittee, I look forward to hearing from the panelists and attendees and to sharing the information I gather at the Summit with organizations in my district and with my colleagues in Congress.

For more information about the Summit, visit

Congresswoman Hilda Solis