This past Thursday marked the first 100 days of the new House majority in the 118th Congress. As your congressman, I want to address my office’s accomplishments these past 100 days.
Constituent services will always be my top priority in Congress. Since January, my team and I have closed more than 300 constituent services cases, helped expedite 105 passports for constituents in the 27th Congressional District, attended 33 events in the district, and helped refund more than $2.1 million from the IRS back to constituents.
This winter, the widow of a veteran in our district came to our office asking for help with the Department of Veterans Affairs to process a claim for benefits she was rightly owed. We were able to get her more than $10,000 in back pay and her monthly income of $2,000 awarded. It is stories like these that make this job worth it.
If you need help getting a passport expedited, or need help from one of our phenomenal caseworkers in one of my district offices, please reach out to my office.
At the start of this Congress, Washington also began discussions regarding the impending debt ceiling. I’ve been outspoken through it all that I will not allow this debate to impact your Social Security and Medicare benefits. I remain firm on that stance. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I also started this Congress with a new committee assignment. I am now proud to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. That, on top of the Appropriations and Science, Space, and Technology committees, gives me a unique opportunity to support our nation’s security and the defense industry that serves as the economic backbone of the 27th District.
I reintroduced three bills in January from the last Congress as my first bills for the 118th Congress: The Inflation Prevention Act, the SALT Fairness Act, and the Prioritizing Troops Over Tax Collectors Act, which would address a number of important issues for our communities.
The Inflation Prevention Act would provide Congress with a tool to combat out-of-control spending in legislation when year-over-year inflationary rates are above 4.5%. This bill would give much-needed relief to Californians and help ease the burden of the current inflationary period caused by irresponsible spending by the federal government.
The SALT Fairness Act would repeal the SALT deduction cap created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In California, a middle-class married couple can quickly hit the $10,000 SALT deduction cap if they both work and own a home. Removing the cap would put thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money back in your pocket. This is a top priority of mine, and on top of being a founding member of the bipartisan SALT Caucus, I am committed to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to repeal the SALT deduction cap.
Last year, the president signed the deceptively named Inflation Reduction Act. In reality, this bill raised taxes, cut jobs and aggravated inflation. Also included in this $739 billion legislation was $80 billion to fund the hiring of 87,000 additional Internal Revenue Service agents and an increase in audits for middle-class families.
My bill, the Prioritizing Troops Over Tax Collectors Act, would reallocate that $80 billion to instead go toward a military service member pay raise. Some 23,000 service members rely on food stamps. Providing our military personnel with an adequate base pay raise should be common sense. This legislation would ensure our service members who put their lives on the line for our country are paid a minimum of $15 per hour when calculating for a 40-hour work week.
Our service members are our nation’s secret weapon and it’s time we treat them as such. This legislation is in lockstep with my bill, the Raising Annual Income of Servicemembers by Enhancing (RAISE) Minimum Base Pay Act, which would also provide our junior enlisted service members a much-needed pay raise.
Another issue important to our communities is wildfire mitigation. That’s why I introduced the Fire Information and Reaction Enhancement (FIRE) Act in January, which would improve wildfire detection and forecasting and enable federal agencies to quickly disseminate critical information to land managers and firefighters, helping to combat wildfires before they spread to catastrophic levels.
This legislation has already received bipartisan support, and I’m hopeful that it can pass through both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by the president.
Just two weeks ago, I reintroduced two bills to secure our schools and protect students from mass shootings and other violent acts. The Safe Schools Act would allow unspent COVID-19 relief dollars that were already allocated to schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be used by schools to harden themselves with physical security measures.
The Strengthening School Security for Students Act would provide funding for schools to hire and train at least two school resource officers per 500 students to improve school security and protect students from potential threats. Nobody in this country wants to see these tragic events continue, and Congress must work together to find solutions to deter future violence from taking place.
On top of the efforts I am leading on, I’ve helped the new House majority pass historic legislation to address some of the issues causing the most pain for families in the 27th District. The new majority has already taken up legislation to protect our strategic petroleum reserves, which are at the lowest level since 1984 because of this administration. Furthermore, we passed a bill banning this administration from selling oil reserves to our greatest adversary, China.
Both these bills received bipartisan support in the House. I was proud to co-sponsor H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which recently passed the House and will reduce record-high gas prices.
I also voted for H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights. This legislation would ensure parents have a say in their child’s education and provide transparency for parents to know what their kids are being taught in school.
The last 100 days have been busy and productive, but there is still work to be done. Inflation is still near record highs, we continue to see an overtly aggressive China on the world stage, and our communities still need protecting from crime and fentanyl coming through the southern border.
Rest assured, I will stop at nothing to continue fighting for the beautiful communities in California’s 27th District that I am grateful to serve and call home.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, represents the 27th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.