Keeping Americans Safe

The most important job of Congress is to keep Americans safe. In a world of new, dynamic threats, we need a smart, tough national security strategy to destroy our enemies abroad without getting dragged into another prolonged conflict. And we must prevent attacks from happening here at home. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have worked to get our troops the tools and technology they need to carry out their missions safely and effectively.

Congress must also do more to protect our communities by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and terrorists. I have become a nationally recognized leader in the fight to reduce gun violence and back laws to toughen background checks and ban suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns.

National Security

America needs a smart, targeted national security strategy capable of countering the threats we face. This means preventing foreign fighters from entering the country and giving our military leaders the resources and support to help our allies destroy terrorist groups abroad. I introduced a bill to make joining a foreign terrorist organization an act of treason. It would automatically revoke passports from citizens found to be affiliated with terrorist groups, and I voted to pass a similar proposal put forward by one of my Republican colleagues. I also voted to eliminate gaps in our visa waiver agreements that could have allowed high-risk individuals to enter the country with less stringent screening.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have worked to give our warfighters the resources they need to equip a 21st century military and defeat our enemies. Each of my four years on the Armed Services Committee I have helped write and pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which lays out defense policy and priorities, and this year I was selected to serve on the committee that works out the differences between the House and Senate versions of this major piece of legislation. I have offered and passed amendments to increase the number of high tech tools available to our warfighters, to continue the military’s efforts to diversify its fuel supply and reduce reliance on foreign oil, and to support the expansion of missile defense cooperation we currently have with Israel to other allies in the Middle East. This year’s bill included provisions I fought for to authorize the building of a new training facilities for Navy SEALs on Coronado and new hangars at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to house F-35 jets – fulfilling important priorities for San Diego’s military leaders.

A smart, robust national defense also puts the United State in a stronger position to counter the aggression of states like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. We must work with our allies to crack down on state sponsorship of terrorism, curb conventional weapons development and trafficking, and first and foremost stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I voted to support the Iran Nuclear Deal because it was the best option for preventing an armed nuclear conflict. It prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon for at least fifteen years. The day it was implemented in January the deal succeeded in reducing the number of Iranian centrifuges from 19,000 to about 6,000 and cutting Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium from 10,000 kg to 300kg. I will continue to be vigilant in ensuring the deal is implemented effectively, while working separately to stop Iran’s efforts to support terrorist groups, develop ballistic missiles, and destabilize the region. 

Reducing Gun Violence

I came to Congress shortly after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School determined to make a difference and prevent the next gun violence tragedy. In the House of Representatives, we have yet to even take a vote on one of a number of bipartisan proposals to curb gun violence. Congress’ refusal to address gun violence has come to embody the partisan dysfunction that Americans hate about Congress. No law can end gun violence, but every shooting is a tragedy that could potentially be prevented with stronger gun safety laws. 

I have co-sponsored laws to toughen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other criminals, keeping domestic violence victims and San Diegans safer. I have also pushed to ban suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from buying guns. 90% of Americans agree with these proposals, but Congress has yet to act.

Since December of last year, I have been reading the names of mass shooting victims in front of the House of Representatives to force a vote to strengthen background checks. And in June, I became part of history when I livestreamed the Democratic sit-in protest in the House of Representatives to force votes to strengthen background checks and prevent the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists. As a nationally recognized leader in this fight, I won’t rest until the American people get the action from Congress they deserve to strengthen background check laws and make their communities safer.