CA17: Khanna & Honda argue Honda’s record

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign claims Rep. Mike Honda is inflating his record on jobs and education, while Honda claims Khanna doesn’t understand how Congress actually works.

My earlier post on Khanna’s jobs agenda drew a response from Honda’s campaign, which in turn led Khanna’s campaign to reiterate claims it first made Feb. 14 that Honda has accomplished little during his seven terms in the House.

“Congressman Mike Honda has authored only one bill in his entire Congressional tenure that became law: ‘to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1750 Lundy Avenue in San Jose, California,’” Khanna’s campaign said in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. “Not a single bill that Congressman Honda has authored (other than the aforementioned post office naming) has been voted on in the House.”

Khanna’s belief that this means something underscores his lack of political experience, Honda’s campaign retorts.

“Because of how Congress works, with only a certain number of bills getting passed every year, legislators who want to get things done have to be savvy about how they go about it: there’s a big difference between just having your name on a bill and actually delivering results. And Mike Honda delivers results,” spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said.

So, let’s hash this out, one issue at a time, after the jump…


Khanna’s campaign notes that in a recent video, Dhaval Brahmbhatt of the San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council says that “he [Honda] initiated the first bill” on nanotechnology. Actually, H.R. 766, the “Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003” was authored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y.; Honda introduced H.R. 2749, “Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities Act,” in 2011 but it died in committee.

Kembaiyan said that when Honda had the idea for getting more federal support for nanotechnology in 2003, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, so his best course of action was to introduce the bill in partnership with Boehlert, who chaired the House Science Committee. (Honda is listed among that bill’s original cosponsors.) That bill passed the House, and the Senate version was signed into law by President George W. Bush; ultimately, it was funded at nearly $4 billion.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education

Khanna’s campaign notes that the same video quotes a Hill article about a Honda bill that would’ve created an office of STEM education. That’s H.R. 6248, the “Elevating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Act of 2010,” which also died in committee.

Kembaiyan responds that Honda in 2008 worked with then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama to introduce the Enhancing STEM Education Act, to enhance coordination among state and federal governments on these types of schooling – Honda introduced the House version and Obama introduced the Senate version on the same day. Parts of this bill as well as parts of another Honda bill eventually were included in the America COMPETES Act reauthorization, which President Obama signed into law in January 2011.

BART funding

Khanna’s campaign claims Honda did less than he claims to help fund BART’s extension to San Jose. “Rep. Honda secured a $2 million earmark for the BART extension from the House Appropriations Committee. He initially asked for $20 million, and the $2 million he actually received was a very small percentage of the $900 million that the Federal Transit Administration ultimately granted the project in 2012,” Khanna’s Truth Squad site notes. “The federal funding only came after voters in Santa Clara County approved a half-cent sales tax.”

But Kembaiyan says Honda got $11 million in earmarks while serving on the House Transportation Committee from 2001 to 2006. Also while on that committee, Honda in 2005 helped get the BART project qualified under the New Starts program, which was essential to getting the $900 million federal authorization. And while on the Appropriations Committee, Honda helped appropriate the first $400 million of that $900 million authorization: $100 million in FY 2012, $150 million in FY 2013 and $150 million in FY 2014.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    This red-hot race has me so excited I gotta go change my pants!

  • Richard Woulfe

    I think Ro Khanna understands Congress pretty good, contrary to what Honda is saying. Khanna In his campaign literature has pointed out Congress only works three days a week – Tuesday thru Thursday. Monday and Friday are travel days. Congress works at a snails pace – we voters can see this, Congress never seems to get anything done! Honda may one of the biggest snails in Congress I should add, given he’s passed a single bill in 14 years, not counting the bills Honda is trying to horn in on by claiming authorship. I’m a blue collar worker myself, worked 320 days last year, hitting that pace this year too. Why can’t Congress put in a weeks work? What’s with all these special interest paid junkets Honda is taking? Honda may be nice guy – I keep hearing that – but we need people in Congress that are going to work their tails off – people that can come up with solutions on how to deal with this horrific income inequality you are seeing, the 24% poverty rate in Cal, 1 in 4 kids growing up in poverty, three unemployed workers chasing every job opening. Congress – and Mike Honda don’t get it, they continue to work three day work weeks and fight all the time in DC when you got all this misery going on. I think Mike Honda deserves his walking papers, and I think this Ro Khanna wil work more than 320 days a week per year, so that’s why I think he works as the next Congressman in the 17th.

  • Marga

    Josh, can you give us some perspective? How many bills have the other Bay Area legislators passed in the last 14 years. How about Barbara Lee? I don’t know the answer – but whether it be none or 20, I’m still very glad she’s my representative.

  • Elwood

    Ro’s staff are a loyal bunch. That’s commendable.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    If BaBa Lee spake for thee, what a pity, Hee Hee Hee!