CONGRESSMAN DARREN SOTO REPRESENTING FLORIDA'S 9TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
JANUARY 2019 - DECEMBER 2020
2020 DELIVERING FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA PREPARED BY THE OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN DARREN SOTO
A REVIEW OF THE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CASEWORK/CORRESPONDENCE.............................2 OUTREACH......................................................................3 COVID-19.........................................................................4 2020 CENSUS..................................................................7 GRANTS & FUNDING.....................................................8 COMMITTEE WORK......................................................9 FOR THE PEOPLE.........................................................10 LEGISLATION................................................................12 STAYING CONNECTED..............................................18 LOOKING AHEAD........................................................19 STAY UPDATED............................................................20
INTRODUCTION Dear friends and neighbors, It's been a busy two years fighting for the issues that matter to every day Central Floridians. For many in Florida and across the country, 2020 has been a challenging year. Through it all, we achieved tremendous progress in Florida's 9th Congressional District and in Washington, DC. My team and I are honored to have served you during the 116th Congress and we look forward to continuing our commitment to provide superior service to you and your family. In community,
Team Soto is made up of 17 dedicated public servants between Central Florida and Washington, DC. Each and every member of our team brings a unique perspective and contributes to our overall success. I am immensely proud of their work and dedication to our community.
SERVING YOU CONSTITUENT CASEWORK & CORRESPONDENCE Since being elected to Congress in 2016, my office and I have been working around the clock to serve Central Floridians in Orange, Polk and Osceola Counties. Whether you need assistance with a federal agency like the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service, want to apply for federal grant funding, would like to order a flag or are considering visiting Washington, DC, we are always here to help you. Between 2019 and 2020, my office successfully completed over 1,500 constituent cases and sent over 12,000 letters and emails responding to your questions and concerns.
LEBRATIN KATRINA CE
SON HUSBAND & G WITH HER
We have been in the United States for a total of 12 years before being awarded our U.S. Citizenship in 2019. Our son has always wanted to serve his country and we were lucky enough to get our citizenship in time for him to apply to the United States Air Force Academy. He took the Oath to serve this great nation in July and has not looked back. Our family has made the United States our home and are proud to call ourselves Americans! - KATRINA, FROM ENGLAND
CONNECTING WITH YOU TOWN HALLS & COMMUNITY EVENTS As your representative, I am committed to being present in our community and having full transparency and open communication regarding our efforts in Washington, DC. I have enjoyed engaging with our constituents at events like the Come out With Pride Festival in 2019 and Valentine's for Veterans in February of 2020, and look forward to the great memories we will make in 2021. Throughout the past two years, Team Soto has also hosted important conversations with our community to address issues and find solutions that encompass all points of view. At our townhalls and roundtables, we have had the opportunity to hear from local leaders and constituents about the things we can improve in our district and how we can come together to achieve meaningful change. Receiving feedback about our work on the federal level has also helped us refine our legislative agenda to reflect the needs of our district.
During the 116th Congress, Team Soto visited every city in every county and hosted 99 town halls and meetings. We also attended over 800 events in our community.
FIGHTING COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT As we entered uncharted waters earlier this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of you wrote, called and emailed my office desperate for answers. You wanted to know how you could put food on the table. You wanted to know if your elderly loved ones in nursing homes would be safe. You wanted to know why our brave health care workers didn't have access to personal protective medical equipment. You wanted to know what to do if you had COVID-19 symptoms and needed to get tested. You wanted to know what resources were available for small businesses struggling to remain open. My team and I heard you and did everything in our power to secure access to increased testing and quality health care, as well as food and housing assistance for residents in Orange, Osceola and Polk counties. In Polk County alone, Team Soto was able to secure 12 mobile testing sites in our most at-risk communities.
In addition, my district staff helped many of our friends and neighbors return home after being stuck overseas due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. After hearing that many of our constituents needed access to resources to get through the pandemic, my office coordinated donations from local businesses and worked with community organizations to identify families in need and facilitate distribution.
FIGHTING COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS CONGRESSIONAL ACTION In addition to assisting constituents with individual services, I took an active role in Washington, D.C. to fight for federal funding for our communities. My office and I secured:
We also took further action and: Held phone calls with local leaders, including: Hospital executives, administrators and doctors; Mayors and City Council Members; School principals and administrators; and Many groups and organizations. Wrote numerous letters, including: a letter to keep utilities on for Floridians; a letter to stop evictions and later to extend the eviction moratorium; a letter to provide first responders with PPE; a letter for overtime and hazard pay for first responders; a letter to expedite housing assistance; a letter calling for a quick release of unemployment benefits; and a letter calling for the release of federal funds to cities and counties. Introduced legislation to: protect healthcare workers, essential workers and first responders; stop the balloon payment loophole for homeowners; overhaul the national stockpile; and ensure zero out-of-pocket costs for vaccines. Hosted Facebook Live Town Halls to update our community on federal relief, listen to your concerns and answer questions. Questioned top federal officials, including Dr. Fauci; and Visited local hospitals and met with our health care heroes.
FIGHTING COVID-19 FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT The Families First Coronavirus Response Act consisted of an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill. It allocated funds to develop and research a vaccine, fund public health programs, procure pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, facilitate the development of new therapies and treatments, and gave an estimated $7 billion in lowinterest loans to affected small businesses to help cushion the economic blow of this public health emergency.
CARES ACT The second bipartisan congressional COVID-19 bill, the CARES Act, secured free COVID-19 testing and provided family and worker protections. The CARES Act: Established free COVID-19 testing for all Americans; Secured emergency paid leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave; Secured enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a step that will extend protections to furloughed workers; Strengthened nutrition security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition, and food banks; and Increased federal funds for Medicaid to support our local, state, tribal, and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.
EMERGENCY COVID-19 RELIEF BILL The third bipartisan congressional COVID-19 funding bill is an over $900 billion stimulus to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people. Among its provisions, the bill provides: Billions in funds to accelerate the free & equitable distribution of safe vaccines; $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits; A new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child; A $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work; $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools and $10 billion for child care assistance; Emergency rental assistance and an eviction moratorium; and Additional assistance for small businesses.
BEING COUNTED 2020 CENSUS The U.S. Census is conducted every 10 years to track changes in population. The results are used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and also help the federal government distribute billions of federal dollars to communities. Florida's 9th Congressional District was committed to being counted in the 2020 Census. We beat our self-response rate from 2010 and will receive more funding for our hospitals, schools, roads and housing as a result!
62.0% 60.3% 52.7%
64.7% 62.2% 58%
This time around, counting had to be done a little differently. In March, the U.S. Census Bureau adjusted operations to protect the health and safety of employees and the American public without compromising accuracy. We also fought back against efforts to include an unfair citizenship question and end the count early to exclude under-counted communities.
DELIVERING FOR FL-09 FEDERAL GRANTS AND FUNDING Our community has received federal grants in a wide variety of areas, including the environment, transportation and housing. These funds â€” which are your taxpayer dollars going back into our community â€” have allowed us to invest in innovation and set ambitious goals for the future. Over the past two years, we have taken steps to preserve the Kissimmee River and our beautiful Florida coral reefs, as well as strengthen Central Florida's agriculture sector, which serves as an essential part of our local economy. With over $7 million awarded from the Department of Transportation in 2020, we also hope to mend connectivity issues in rural parts of the district by expanding SunRail and continuing our efforts to ease traffic congestion on I-4. Additionally, we are focused on allocating funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that our constituents have affordable housing options.
My staff and I are always pleased to assist you with questions regarding Federal Grants. While we cannot help you apply directly to grants or private funding, we can provide you with the resources that would make the process easier. For more information, click here.
LEGISLATIVE WORK COMMITTEES AND CAUCUSES At the beginning of the 116th Congress, I was honored to be appointed to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the oldest standing legislative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and the committee vested with the broadest jurisdiction over issues like healthcare, the environment, energy, consumer protection, technology and more. As a returning Member of the Committee on Natural Resources, I continued my work to advance the interests of indigenous peoples and Americans in Puerto Rico, safeguard our country's national parks and protect Florida's environment.
In total, I participated in:
In 2019 and 2020, I was honored to be a member of the following congressional caucuses: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair, Civil Rights and Voting Rights Task Force Co-Chair, Puerto Rico and Insular Areas Task Force Arts and Technology Task Force New Democrat Coalition Co-Chair, Technology Task Force Climate Change Task Force
Congressional Blockchain Caucus Co-Chair LGBT Caucus Vice-Chair Problem Solvers Caucus Congressional #FutureForum Safe Climate Caucus Congressional Labor Caucus
LEGISLATIVE WORK FOR THE PEOPLE AGENDA In the beginning of the 116th Congress, House Democrats made it clear that our legislative agenda would reflect the needs of working Americans. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi designated the top 9 bill numbers to legislation addressing issues such as rising prescription drug prices, voter suppression and climate change. These bills were written with input from affected communities and were passed by the Democratic Majority in the House of Representatives. We are proud of our progress and are prepared to hit the ground running on Day 1 of the 117th Congress!
H.R.1 - For the People Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03) | Passed the House of Representatives on 03/08/2019 H.R.1 aims to strengthen American democracy by ending the influence big money has on politics, ensuring that special interests are not above the public and making sure that elections are free of interference and voter suppression.
H.R.2 - Moving Forward Act
Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) | Passed the House of Representatives on 07/01/2020 The Moving Forward Act invests in families, workers, and communities by rebuilding American infrastructure â€” including schools, housing and broadband access.
H.R.3 - Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act
Introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) | Passed the House of Representatives on 12/12/2019 Americans deserve access to lifesaving medication regardless of their socio-economic status. H.R.3 puts power back into the hands of the people by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and limiting drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies.
H.R.4 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) | Passed the House of Representatives on 12/06/2019 Voter suppression undermines our democracy and silences entire communities. The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 seeks to restore the full protections of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 and target specific voting access issues experienced by Americans today.
H.R.5 - Equality Act
Introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01) | Passed the House of Representatives on 05/17/2019 The Equality Act amends several civil rights laws to explicitly protect LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, education and federally funded programs.
LEGISLATIVE WORK FOR THE PEOPLE AGENDA H.R.6 - American Dream and Promise Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) | Passed the House of Representatives on 06/04/2019 DREAMERs, TPS holders and individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure status should not live in fear of deportation. H.R. 6 creates necessary protections for immigrants and outlines a path to permanent residency for millions.
H.R.7 - Paycheck Fairness Act
Introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) | Passed the House of Representatives on 03/27/2019 Equal pay for equal work should not be up for discussion. The Paycheck Fairness Act works to update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees.
H.R.8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) | Passed the House of Representatives on 02/27/2019 Democrats and Republicans alike agree that a background check should be conducted on any individual looking to purchase a firearm. H.R. 8 prioritizes safety by setting necessary restrictions on firearm purchases and closing the dangerous gun show loophole.
H.R.9 - Climate Action Now Act
Introduced by Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14) | Passed the House of Representatives on 05/02/2019 The climate crisis our planet is going through can no longer be ignored. The Climate Action Now Act acknowledges the seriousness of the situation and holds the President accountable for the United States' commitment to reducing pollution.
BILLS PASSED BY HOUSE DEMOCRATS
BIPARTISAN BILLS HOUSE DEMOCRATS HAVE GOTTEN SIGNED INTO LAW BIPARTISAN BILLS BEING BLOCKED IN THE SENATE
LEGISLATIVE WORK ACCOMPLISHMENTS During the 116th Congress, I introduced bills dealing with legislative issues ranging from healthcare and emerging technologies to the veterans and our environment; I amended bills where I saw improvements could be made; I supported legislation introduced by other Members on both sides of the aisle; I attended numerous committee hearings and mark ups; I wrote several letters calling for investigations and demanding explanations; And I casted votes, always keeping in mind that I represent and work for the people of Central Florida. In total I had:
10 232 2 999 For a full list of the legislation I've introduced and co-sponsored, visit congress.gov. Further details on some of my legislative accomplishments will be found in the forthcoming pages.
LEGISLATIVE WORK Althea Margaret Daily Mills Post Office Act Introduced by Rep. Soto, SIGNED INTO LAW Althea Margaret Daily Mills was a pioneer, a trailblazer and a civil rights leader. She was the first Black Career Employee for USPS in Winter Haven, and the first post office station manager at Florence Villa Station. To honor her legacy, the Winter Haven Post Office (1401 1st Street North in Winter Haven, Florida) will be named in her honor.
H.R. 345 - SMASH Act
Introduced by Rep. Soto, SIGNED INTO LAW This legislation supports and expands programs for mosquito-borne and vectorborne disease surveillance and control. Portions of the bill were included in Section 607 of H.R. 269 (Pandemic and All-Hazard Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act). H.R. 269 was signed into law in December 2020.
H.R. 3094 - Pulse Nightclub National Memorial Site
Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE Four years ago, we saw the atrocious and destructive nature of hatred plague our Orlando community when 49 lives were taken and 53 others were injured. To honor their memory, I'm fighting with Reps. Murphy and Demings to make the Pulse Nightclub a National Memorial Site.
LEGISLATIVE WORK H.R. 3094 - Venezuela TPS Act
Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE The historic passage of this bill upholds our American values of compassion and democracy. Venezuelans have become the largest group of asylum seekers applying for refuge in the United States, with hundreds of thousands in Florida alone. With TPS extended to Venezuelans already in the U.S., we will be able to provide them refuge and save their lives.
H.R. 2526 - Safer Choice Standard
Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE The bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator to revise the Safer Choice Standard to provide for a Safer Choice label for pots, pans and cooking utensils that do not contain PFAS. H.R. 2526 was incorporated into H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019, that passed out of the House.
H.R. 3631, Territories Health Care Improvement Act
Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE This legislation increases the limit on Medicaid payments and the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage for the five U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill passed the House incorporated into H.R. 3338, the REACH Act.
LEGISLATIVE WORK Blockchain Innovation Act & Digital Taxonomy Act Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE Both bills were incorporated into the Consumer Safety Technology Act (H.R. 8128). They seek to help reduce fraud and increase financial security while expanding the potential of the blockchain ecosystem in the United States government. Portions of each bill passed the House with Consumer Safety Technology Act.
H.R. 496- Sinkhole Mapping Act of 2019 Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE This legislation directs the United States Geological Survey to study triggers for sinkholes. It also designates the USGS Director to establish and maintain a public website that displays maps that depict zones that are at greater risk of sinkhole formation. Portions of the bill were included in H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, that passed the House.
Restoring Resilient Reefs Act Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED SENATE Our bill authorizes five years of directed federal funding and technical assistance to states for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems, encourages innovative new Coral Reef Stewardship Partnerships among resource management agencies, research centers, and community stakeholders, and codifies and updates the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.
LEGISLATIVE WORK H.R. 7565 - To authorize the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease or transfer certain land, and for other purposes.
Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED SENATE The bill empowers the Seminole Tribe to lease or transfer land critical to economic opportunity and growth for their people. We respect and will continue to advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples across Florida and the nation.
H.R.6632- Save Our Homes Act Introduced by Rep. Soto, PASSED HOUSE This legislation would improve the forbearance provided under the CARES Act by ending balloon payments, prohibiting the accrual of additional interest or fees under forbearance, and allowing struggling homeowners to simply start making their mortgage payments again, with missed payments made at the end of the loan with an extended term. Passed in Heroes Act.
AI Jobs Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. Soto Our legislation seeks to collect data to analyze which industries are projected to have the most growth through artificial intelligence, and the demographics which may experience expanded career opportunities and those most vulnerable to job displacement. To ensure transparency, the report will be conducted in a nonpartisan manner.
LEGISLATIVE WORK H.R.1965- the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2019 Introduced by Rep. Soto This legislation to admit Puerto Rico as the next state of our union is about respecting democracy and equality on the island. The Puerto Rican people have spoken. It’s time for Congress to finally make Puerto Rico a state!
H.R. 37 – Kissimmee River Wild and Scenic River Study Act Introduced by Rep. Soto This legislation would designate Central Florida’s river and its tributaries in the state of Florida for study under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Portions of this bill empowering the US Department of Interior to designate Kissimmee River as a Wild and Scenic River passed into law in the 2021 Appropriations Act.
H.R. 557 - Protect Patriot Spouses Act Introduced by Rep. Soto In August 2018, Alejandra Juarez, a Polk County resident, was deported to her home country of Mexico. Alejandra’s husband, Sgt. Temo Juarez is an Iraq combat veteran who served in the Marines and the Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard. Our legislation would help reunite the Juarez Family and other military families.
STAYING CONNECTED COMMUNICATIONS There is nothing more important to me than staying connected with you. One of the best ways of keeping you informed on key policy issues is by reaching you through our local news media. Over the last two years, I have participated in numerous press interviews, held several press conferences and sent dozens of press releases on key initiatives for our community. As we continue navigating the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am committed to keeping Central Floridians up to date on any developments that may affect our district.
SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
For a full list of my press releases and media hits, visit my website: soto.house.gov.
LOOKING AHEAD BUILD BACK BETTER We had a historic election in November with a record number of 80 million Americans casting their ballot for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris! In addition, Americans have once again voted to keep our Democratic Majority in the House of Representatives to continue our fight for the people of Floridaâ€™s 9th Congressional District and across the country. Together, with a Democratic White House, we will end the COVID-19 pandemic, bring our economy back to prosperity, boost our national infrastructure, advance racial equity, tackle the climate crisis and unite our nation. The time has come for our nation to heal. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are ready to meet the urgent challenges our nation faces on DAY ONE. Read all about their plan to Build Back Better here.
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