Dear friends,

With the holidays upon us and the end of 2014 fast approaching, I wanted to update you on what I’ve been up to and make sure we stay in touch heading into the new year and new Congress.

Our Victory

Because of your support and encouragement, I’ll be heading back to Washington for another two years to keep fighting for our middle class families, farmers, and small businesses. Though it took a few extra days to count all the votes, we ended up winning by nearly five percentage points in a very bad year for Democrats. Many of you knocked on doors, made phone calls, and supported our campaign financially and in many other ways. Thank you – this victory is yours.

In Washington

And the fight is going to get even tougher now that the Republicans will control the Senate along with the House of Representatives. We got a preview of how things might work next year at the end of this session, when I opposed two terrible bills that came up in the House: the Valadao “drought relief” bill, and the so-called “CRomnibus” government funding bill.

The Valadao bill would have had terrible consequences for the people I represent and for our environment. In the name of trying to mitigate the drought, it would have allowed environmental law to be suspended so that new water flowing to the California Delta could be shipped south of this region, negatively affecting all those that depend on this important resource. The bill was written without any input from stakeholders here in the Delta itself – and I strongly believe this issue should be decided in California by all stakeholders, not in Washington. Even though Rep. Valadao’s bill passed the House, it thankfully did not pass the Senate or get the President’s signature.

I would have voted for the CRomnubus funding bill had it contained only government funding. Unfortunately, Republican Senators inserted two provisions that I found completely unacceptable: One was a provision that will allow wealthy people in this country to have even more influence over our elections- it increases the individual contribution level to campaigns ten times- from $35,000 to $350,000 per person. This is another step toward big money controlling the media in elections and is a dangerous departure from representative one-person-one-vote democracy.

Another unacceptable provision inserted in the CRomnibus funding bill would allow big banks to trade derivatives under the protection of the federal government. This activity is exactly what caused the financial crash of 2008, when the big banks were bailed out at taxpayer expense and their top executives got enormous bonuses while millions of jobs were lost and home values plummeted. The funding bill ultimately passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the president, but you can be sure I’ll be working with my colleagues to protect our middle class taxpayers and to ultimately undo the worst of these new laws.

Thank you

You can see why it’s so important for reasonable voices like ours to be heard. We must continue to protect our middle class families, along with our veterans and small businesses, who are the real job creators. Thank you once again for standing with me. I look forward to continuing our work together in 2015 and beyond.

Mary and I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and a happy and prosperous New Year.