Traditionally, congressional freshmen take it slow, keep their heads down and learn from the more experienced lawmakers. Rep. Katie Hill is not acting like a typical freshman.
Before she even took office, Hill led a movement to ensure Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Speaker of the House, was elected co-freshman representative to the Democratic House leadership, became the first congresswoman-elect to deliver the party’s weekly address, and co-signed a letter to President Trump asking for more federal aid for California fire relief.
Once taking office, she was appointed vice chair of the House Oversight Committee.
Last week marked 100 days in office, and Hill (D-Agua Dulce) sent out a press release touting her accomplishments. In a statement, Hill said, “I am so proud to serve the people of my hometown in Washington and even prouder to already be delivering for our community. I promised that I would put the priorities of the people above corporations and special interests and that’s exactly what I’ve done to achieve results.”
Republicans Mike Garcia and Angela Underwood Jacobs, who have announced they will challenge Hill next year, said in separate statements they object to Hill’s connections to Pelosi and New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s agendas. Both also accused Hill of moving too far to the left toward socialism.
Here are the highlights:
Authored bipartisan legislation to address concerns from 25th Congressional District constituents about the flaws in their Medicare Part B enrollment;
Passed a bipartisan bill through the House of Representatives to protect whistleblowers and follow through on her promise to weed out government corruption and promote accountability and transparency;
Delivered on her promise to focus on healthcare by cosponsoring 16 different healthcare bills, including sweeping new healthcare legislation that would lower Californian’s health insurance premiums, crack down on junk health insurance plans, and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
This first refers to HR 1788, introduced March 14. Fourteen people have co-sponsored it, including one Republican, Brian Babin of Texas. It currently sits in two committees.
The second refers to HR 1064, introduced Feb. 7. It expands whistleblower protections to include talking to a supervisor in the employee’s direct chain of command up to and including the head of the employing agency, or to an employee designated to receive such disclosures.
The third refers to HR 1884, introduced March 26. It amends the Affordable Care Act to improve affordability, undo sabotage and increase access to health insurance coverage.
It currently sits in three committees.
Hill said she knows it isn’t realistic to get legislation through Congress and onto the president’s desk in 100 days, given how slow things progress through the chambers. The previous Congress passed just 388 bills that became law, according to govtrackinsider.com. The Congress before that passed 329 bills that went to President Obama, according to Quorum.
“The fact that we not only passed some things through but actually had them signed into law is a pretty big deal, especially in a divided Congress like this,” she said in an interview Wednesday.
So far, Hill has authored four bills. Only HR 1064 has passed the House. It currently is in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
According to congress.gov, Hill has attached her name to 177 pieces of legislation. Of these, eight have passed the House, and all of them are in Senate committees.
Hill also signed onto 18 resolutions. Trump vetoed the joint resolution objecting to his declaring a national emergency at the southern border, and Congress failed to override.
Used her position in Washington to cut through bureaucracy and tackle pressing local issues like the CEMEX mine.
Last month, Hill wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior Board of Land Appeals requesting an expedited decision on whether Mexican building materials company CEMEX can mine gravel in Soledad Canyon. Two days later, the ruling came down: Cemex’s contracts are valid until July 2020, but since it would take longer than that to get the operation going, it’s unlikely any mining would ever happen.
According to Communications Director Kassie King and senior advisor Ben Steinberger, who ran point on CEMEX, the IBLA informed Hill that her letter had been received and sent to the right people. Steinberger also said he expected the ruling to come later this year.
Hill insisted, “There was no way that timing is so fortuitous when we’ve been waiting on a decision for three years,” she said. “The fact that we pushed for it and it got done is a testament to the work of my office. The issue is the IBLA has been sitting on this decision for three years. … It became clear the issue was a bureaucratic one. We used our political leverage to make that decision happen, and that shows bipartisan relationships. You don’t get a decision from the (Trump) administration without working across the aisle.”
Of course, Hill wasn’t the first to deal with this issue. Former Reps. Buck McKeon and Steve Knight had tried, to various extents, to get something done. Hill took credit for finishing the job.
“You have something sitting there three years. Then we get the letter issued, then we get a response within two days,” she said. “You’re telling me that happens to be a fluke?”
Introduced her first bill addressing a top local priority, and ensured the legislation was included in a public lands package that passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President.
King said this refers to Senate Bill 47, a public lands package in which Hill secured a memorial to the Saint Francis Dam disaster of 1928 (Hill’s original bill, HR 1015, never got out of committee).
Hill said that the memorial was a top city priority, even though she acknowledged, “If you go around the district or go around Santa Clarita and ask if this was their top priority, I can’t imagine you would have a huge number of people that would say yes, that’s the case. The city is a massive stakeholder and it’s something they prioritized. We were glad to be able to finish it off for them.”
Opened two district offices, held two town halls, attended 22 community events, and visited 16 businesses, military bases, and other key sites in the district.
That does not count a Santa Clarita office. However, Hill said there is now one, in Valencia near City Hall, but it’s not officially opened pending final House security clearance.
Hill said she felt “frustration at how slow the process can be” to get offices opened. “I’m glad we have it now,” she said.
Secured more than $80,000 in VA and Social Security benefits for 25th Congressional District constituents;
District Director Angela Giacchetti said the actual total was $80,808.66. Two constituents received benefits from the VA, and one receive Social Security benefits.
“People who were broke and struggling have now $80,000 in benefits they didn’t have before,” she said. “We have dozens of cases that are open.”