Fighting for Health Care for All
As Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, Pete was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act that was signed into law in 2010 — legislation that will finally guarantee affordable, quality health care to all Americans. It will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, create a fair marketplace where consumers can shop for affordable coverage based on their ability to pay, and enforce rules on insurance company behavior so that people can get the benefits they need at a price they can afford.
Pete authored the COBRA health continuation law in 1985 that has enabled millions of workers to temporarily maintain health coverage on their former employer’s health plan while between jobs. Pete wrote the law prohibiting hospitals from denying care to patients who lack health insurance coverage. He also enacted numerous laws cracking down on health care fraud and modernizing Medicare’s payment policies.
Standing Up for Seniors
Pete has consistently voted to protect and improve Social Security and Medicare. He has been a leading opponent of Republican efforts to privatize these vital programs. In recognition of his commitment to protecting seniors, he receives top ratings from senior advocacy organizations like the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the Alliance for Retired Americans.
In his role on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Pete has focused on making Medicare more effective and affordable. He authored key improvements to Medicare, including the addition of preventive health benefits, the elimination of all cost-sharing for those benefits, a reduction in out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, and improved coverage of mental health treatment.
Growing our Economy and Creating Jobs
To help pull our economy out of the Bush recession, Pete voted in favor of the 2009 stimulus bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). This bill brought over $2.7 Billion to Alameda County. Pete helped author a provision in that bill that created a temporary subsidy program to make COBRA health insurance continuation coverage more affordable for people trying to maintain their families’ health insurance while between jobs. Millions of families benefited from this help.
Pete has focused on maintaining an economy that supports workers of all socioeconomic levels. He’s consistently supported efforts to raise the minimum wage. He strongly supported enactment of the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides workers up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their own illness or that of a family member. He continues to work to improve that vital law by requiring paid family medical leave. He has fought for multiple unemployment insurance extensions during this ongoing economic slump.
Pete believes in the continued right to freely associate and organize and in the power of collective bargaining to create safe and financially stable job opportunities for American workers. He has fought hard to stop the outsourcing of good paying American jobs to foreign countries and opposes trade agreements and tax loopholes that create incentives for companies to move jobs offshore. He supports increased working standards at home and abroad so that eventually American workers are competing on a level playing field with others around the world.
Ensuring Quality Public Education
From childcare for our youngest children, to public education, after school programs and college, Pete believes every child in America deserves a high quality education that promotes their cognitive, social and emotional development.
In 2010, Pete supported passage of the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which provided direct aid to state and local governments to retain 160,000 teachers facing lay-offs due to local budget cuts.
A strong advocate for affordable higher education, Pete worked to successfully pass legislation to eliminate government subsidies to private student lenders and use the savings to expand Federal Pell Grants, lower interest rates on student loans, and invest in community colleges.
Advancing Civil Rights
Pete authored the first piece of federal legislation in history to end discrimination against LGBT individuals and couples seeking to adopt children. The bipartisan Every Child Deserves a Family Act has garnered nearly 100 co-sponsors.
Pete has consistently opposed the Patriot Act, and is currently speaking out against efforts to infringe on free speech through restrictions on Internet content.
Protecting the Environment
Pete is a committed environmentalist who has worked to protect the San Francisco Bay, bring federal resources to restore East Bay wetlands and create recreation opportunities along the Bay shoreline and in the East Bay hills. He also supports strong enforcement of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.
Pete believes we must end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean energy. Over the last two years, he has authored and cosponsored legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end taxpayer subsidies for oil companies
Pete believes strongly in a woman's right to choose, equal pay for equal work, and that being a woman cannot be treated as a pre-existing condition by the health insurance industry. Based on these principles, he stands firmly with President Obama that contraception is a preventive health benefit that must be provided by health insurers free of charge. He was proud to vote for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law in 2009 which amends the Civil Rights Act to enable women to better use the courts to combat pay discrimination.
Another priority for women — and men too — is an effective family leave policy. Building on the Family Medical Leave Act protections for unpaid leave to care for newborns, sick family members, or recover from their own illness, Pete is pursuing legislation to expand that law so that all employees would be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.
A longtime advocate for peace, Pete has consistently opposed the Iraq war. He continues to advocate for the immediate withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. He opposes all bills that extend funding for war and has worked to shut down obsolete weapons systems.