It’s hard for many people to focus on long-term and forward-thinking policies when emotions are running so high, but there are several issues that require our urgent attention. While some of these issues are complex and aren’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds, they directly impact all of us and it’s crucial that we address them now.
Let’s start with climate change. The report released on October 7th by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is alarming. I submitted a legislative proposal on climate change, H.R. 6928, just last month. It is one of many such proposals that were made in the 115th Congress. Hopefully, we can act on this issue in the next two years to try to curb the truly catastrophic changes we’re already facing.
Another issue related to climate change is water policy. The totally misguided water wars in California and elsewhere are continuing to move forward while water crises are emerging nationally and worldwide. What we really need is comprehensive water policy that focuses on conservation, smart water use, recycling and other commonsense investments. My bill introduced this Congress, entitled the WEST Act, would do just that both in California and nationwide.
Additionally, we must address the vulnerabilities of our nation’s electric grid. At a hearing in Washington on September 26th, I asked the Assistant Secretary of Energy, Karen Evans, if she had confidence that our electrical grid is secure against cyberattack or blackmail. She answered with a simple “No”. We need to act decisively to protect our national electrical grid.
We also need to enact privacy rules to give consumers control over what information is being collected about them and how it is being used. I have proposed some very reasonable bills to get us on this path.
There are a number of pressing issues we desperately need to address. We clearly need a comprehensive immigration policy. And we need commonsense gun reform, and a study by the National Institute of Health on the causes of gun violence and how to best curb it. We need a real program to fight the opioid epidemic and the drug war in general, not just political window dressing.
These issues and many others require attention, and yet many seem to be satisfied to focus on political divisions. Without bipartisan compromise, no real progress will be possible on the many policies that have serious long-term consequences, not to mention the damage these divisions are wreaking on our democracy. It is critical that my colleagues in the upcoming 116th Congress work together and begin solving the pressing challenges we face as a nation.