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Honda helps urge Justice probe of Ahmed’s arrest

Rep. Mike Honda joined the only two Muslims in Congress to lead 26 other House members Tuesday in urging the Justice Department to investigate the detention of Ahmed Mohamed, a Texas boy who brought a homemade clock to school.

Mohamed, 14, was arrested after he brought a homemade clock to school to show his teachers and was later accused of having a “hoax bomb.”

honda.jpgHonda, D-San Jose; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; and Andre Carson, D-Ind., wrote to express concern that “Ahmed was denied his civil rights… and refused the right to speak to his father.” The representatives went on to call attention to “reports surrounding the incident that strongly suggest that Ahmed Mohamed was systematically profiled based on his faith and ethnicity.”

“As the President said, ‘Cool clock, Ahmed.’ It’s high time we end discriminatory practices in this country. Profiling and mistreatment of an individual based on presumed or actual faith or ethnicity has no place in the world, let alone in the United States of America,” Honda said in a news release, adding an implicit smackdown to Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who said Sunday he “absolutely would not agree” with having a Muslim serve as president.

“From presidential candidates to teachers and police officers, we all must take a strong unified stand against this seemingly growing trend of fear mongering and bigotry being wrongly perpetuated in our society,” Honda said. “People shouldn’t fear mistreatment or persecution simply for being who they are. As a world leader, America should be setting the bar for tolerance and equality – principles that speak to the foundation of this great nation,”

Among other House members signing the letter were Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Sam Farr, D-Carmel.

Jenifer Wicks, national civil rights litigation director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said her organization stands with Honda and other lawmakers in calling for a Justice Department civil-rights probe. “It is disturbing that Ahmed was suspended by the school and arrested by the police after officials ‘followed protocol’ and determined that he had merely brought a clock to school and that there was no actual threat,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Under: Civil liberties, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Honda & Lee bring home bacon for BART, cops

‘Tis the season when members of Congress proudly trumpet the bacon they’re bringing home for local programs and institutions.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, announced Friday that the Department of Transportation has awarded $150 million to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to fully fund the next year of construction on the BART Silicon Valley Berryessa extension. He said he used his Appropriations Committee seat to ensure the funding was included in the budget.

“Since coming to Congress, I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the BART Silicon Valley Extension receives federal funding,” he said in his news release. “In Silicon Valley, the capital of innovation and manufacturing, we lead in many industries, including progressive transportation projects that will reduce traffic on our roadways and protect our environment.”

He said he has previously worked with VTA and the Secretary of Transportation to secure the $900 million federal full-funding grant agreement needed for the BART extension, $700 million of which has now been brought home.

And Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, announced Monday that the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program is awarding $1.875 million to create or preserve jobs for 15 officers in Oakland; $250,000 for two officers in Alameda County; and $125,000 for one officer in Berkeley.

“At a time when departments face high resource constraints, these federal grants will help address public safety and promote community-oriented policing,” Lee, also an Appropriations Committee member, said in her news release. “As we work to build greater trust between law enforcement and our communities, especially communities of color, the COPS program has proven track record of re-focusing law enforcement efforts on the needs of the communities and promoting greater community trust. We must ensure this vital federal program has the resources it needs to support our communities and ensure public safety.”

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015
Under: Barbara Lee, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Honda resolution would protect LGBT House staff

Rep. Mike Honda introduced a bipartisan resolution Thursday to protect House workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“No person should be afraid of persecution, discrimination, threats, or bullying simply for being who they are,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in his news release. “It is important that in Congress, we lead by example and ensure that the workplace is safe and secure for all employees, and to ensure that discrimination has no place in Congress, especially for LGBTQ individuals. Congress needs to be an equal opportunity employer.”

Honda is founder and chairman of the Congressional Caucus to End Bullying; his resolution’s original cosponsors include Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

“Most Americans already believe that people in any workplace cannot be discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, that is not the case anywhere as it relates to federal law,” Ros-Lehtinen said in the news release. “If we are truly to be The People’s House, we must reflect our nation’s views and values and lead by example. No reasonable person can believe that discrimination or other reprisals based on an immutable characteristic is a tolerable situation in any workplace.”

The resolution is supported by groups including the Human Rights Campaign and the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee.

Honda one year ago Thursday testified before a House Rules subcommittee in support of the House’s LGBT workers, noting that under current rules, “individuals are protected from employment decisions on the basis or face, color, religion, sex, disability, age, or national origin” but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

“For the many LGBT employees of the House – today and tomorrow – we must ensure that employment discrimination has no place in this Congress, or any thereafter,” he said at the time. “After all, securing the comfort and protections for our employees ultimately serves our nation.”

Posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

CA17: Kevin de León endorses Ro Khanna

17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna will be endorsed Thursday by state Senate President Kevin de León, one of the highest-profile California Democrats so far to turn his back on eight-term incumbent Rep. Mike Honda.

Kevin de Leon“Ro Khanna values the ideals that the Democratic Party stands for: equal rights, standing up for working families, protecting social security and Medicare, fighting for clean air and water, expanding the middle class and making sure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream,” de León, D-Los Angeles, said in Khanna’s news release. “As an educator, Ro is committed to making sure public schools have the funding and technology to ensure all our kids have the opportunity to succeed in the 21st Century.”

Khanna, a former Obama administration official, is making his second run against Honda, D-San Jose; Honda beat him by 3.6 percentage points last November.

In the last election cycle, most prominent elected Democrats lined up behind Honda, while a few – notably including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed – endorsed Khanna. It remains to be seen whether the House Ethics Committee’s pending investigation of Honda will affect his endorsements this time around.

“As a community organizer against Prop 187 and for the NEA, I am impressed with Ro’s commitment to grassroots organizing,” de León added. “Not only is he bringing more people into the political process, but I know his commitment to ground-up power will ensure his office stays in touch with the needs of the people he represents, and not just wealthy donors and the special interests.”

Khanna said de León “embodies everything that’s great about the Democratic Party.”

“He’s a leader in the effort to combat climate change, has spearheaded forward-thinking and compassionate immigrant rights laws, worked to make colleges more accessible and affordable, and he has helped spur an innovation economy around renewable energy technologies that has helped create more good paying middle class jobs while protecting our environment,” Khanna said. “I am deeply honored by the confidence and trust Kevin de Leon is placing in me. I look forward to being a strong and active partner with him as we take these California policies and work to adapt them in Washington.”

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Kevin de Leon, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Honda blasts GOP field on Asian-American issues

Rep. Mike Honda helped make the Democratic National Committee’s case Tuesday for why the Republican presidential candidates are both insulting to and bad for the Asian American/Pacific Islander community, as part of a broader DNC push to rally minority voters.

honda.jpg“On issue after issue, Republicans are pushing policies that will hurt the AAPI community,” Honda, D-San Jose, said on a DNC-organized conference call with reporters. “None of the Democratic candidates would even come close to the stupid rhetoric that the Republicans have put out there.”

Honda and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, took the GOP field to task on immigration, economics, education and climate change. Chu said that as “the Republican presidential circus” comes to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley for Wednesday’s debate, “Donald Trump is clearly driving the GOP’s presidential clown car,” but a closer look at other candidates’ words and policies reveals “they’re all wearing face paint and red noses.”

Chu noted not only Trump but also Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have spoken of ending constitutionally protected birthright citizenship, and Rand Paul and John Kasich have offered legislation to do exactly that. The fact that Ronald Reagan signed immigration legislation granting amnesty to up to 3 million people means he probably would be consigned to Wednesday’s “happy hour” debate for low-polling candidates if he were running today, she added.

Meanwhile, Republican disdain for setting a minimum wage and constant efforts to cut taxes deepest for the nation’s richest are not going to be “popular with the middle class and working Americans who have seen their wages remain stagnant” in recent decades, she added.

Honda – who represents the first Asian-American majority district outside Hawaii – said various Republican candidates have supported cutting class sizes and education budgets in their respective states, often showing more concern for waging war on teachers’ unions than for plummeting graduation rates and test scores.

And despite overwhelming scientific evidence of a significant human role in climate change, he said, Trump has insisted climate change is nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by China for economic gain. “And if you think he’s any different than any other Republicans running for president, you’re mistaken,” Honda said, adding they’re “living in a fictional, alternate universe when it comes to climate change.”

The DNC held similar calls Tuesday to decry GOP stances that affect the Latino community – with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, as spokespeople – and for the African-American community, with Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

Past Bay Area ethics probes pale beside Honda’s

The allegations leveled against Rep. Mike Honda in an Office of Congressional Ethics report and made public by the House Ethics Committee on Thursday are arguably the most significant allegations any Bay Area House member has faced in decades.

The OCE in 2009 began investigating then-Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and four other lawmakers to see whether they had violated Maryland criminal tax law and House ethics rules by intentionally filing false applications for a Maryland homeowner’s tax credit. But the Ethics Committee in 2010 cleared Stark of any wrongdoing, and blasted the OCE for conducting “an inadequate review, the result of which was to subject Representative Stark to unfounded criminal allegations.”

In 2011, the OCE investigated whether support for the wine industry by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, had benefited his campaign donors or a vineyard he owns, as described in a New York Times article. But the OCE eventually decided unanimously against further review, Thompson’s spokesman later said; because the matter was never referred to the Ethics Committee, the OCE made no announcement.

Way back in 1983, the Ethics Committee probed whether then-Rep. Ron Dellums, D-Oakland, and one of his aides had used cocaine and marijuana. A special counsel investigated and found no basis for charges, so the committee took no further action.

Posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: Ro Khanna got married

17th Congressional District candidate Ro Khanna got married Saturday in Cleveland.

Per the New York Times:

Ro Khanna and Ritu AhujaRitu Ahuja and Rohit Khanna were married Saturday in Cleveland. Pandit Ashok Bhargava officiated at Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Until April, Mrs. Khanna, 36, was a product marketing specialist in New York for Bulgari, the Italian jewelry and accessories company. She graduated from Georgetown and received a master’s in strategic communications from Columbia.

The bride is a daughter of Usha Ahuja and Monte Ahuja of Hunting Valley, Ohio. The bride’s father is the chairman of Mura Holdings, an investment firm, and is the chief executive of Transmaxx, an automotive transmission parts supplier, both in Solon, Ohio.

Mr. Khanna, 38, is the vice president for strategic initiatives in the Santa Clara, Calif., office of Smart Utility Systems, an energy-efficiency software company. He is also a lecturer in economics at Stanford University, and a Democratic candidate for Congress from Cupertino, Calif. From 2009-11, he worked for the Obama administration as a deputy assistant secretary of commerce. He graduated from the University of Chicago and received a law degree from Yale.

The groom is a son of Jyotsna Khanna and Vijay Khanna of Churchville, Pa. The groom’s mother retired as a substitute special-education teacher in the Council Rock School District in Newtown, Pa. His father retired as a chemical engineer in the Springfield, Pa., office of Rohm & Haas, a manufacturer of chemicals.

Khanna, a Democrat, is running again against Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Honda defeated Khanna by 3.6 percentage points last November after a costly, sometimes ugly race.

Posted on Sunday, August 30th, 2015
Under: Mike Honda, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Mike Honda blasts Jeb Bush on ‘anchor babies’

Rep. Mike Honda has added his voice to the chorus of Democrats and Asian Americans criticizing Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush for his comments about “anchor babies.”

The former Florida governor was in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday when he defended his use of the term to describe children born in the United States to parents who immigrated illegally. He argued that he’s been “immersed in the immigrant experience” personally and said it’s “ludicrous” to say he used the phrase as a slur.

“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized efforts taking advantage of a noble concept which is birthright citizenship,” he said. “I support the 14th Amendment.”

“This language is a slur against all immigrants and has no place in our culture. We need to be focused on elevating the conversation and working towards real, comprehensive immigration reform,” said Honda, D-San Jose, who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Our country is one founded on a multitude of cultures and backgrounds, and such close-minded language goes against the foundation of our democracy. The 14th Amendment of our Constitution guarantees citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States, and we cannot stand by and let anyone diminish that right,” he said. “In Silicon Valley – one of the most diverse areas of our country – we celebrate people from all backgrounds and their contributions to our nation. As the representative of the only Asian American majority district in the continental United States, and as a proud American of Japanese descent, I strongly condemn these statements.”

Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Immigration, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

San Jose airport gets $3.4m for perimeter security

Mineta San Jose International Airport, plagued by trespassers in recent months, will receive more than $3.4 million in federal funding to boost its perimeter security, four local House members announced Monday.

U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, wrote to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta earlier this year in support of more money for perimeter security, noting that while “SJC has undertaken numerous steps to lay the groundwork for raising the height of the airport’s perimeter fence and incorporate proven technology into its perimeter fencing,” the added funds “would provide the airport with resources to prevent unauthorized intrusions and respond to potential security vulnerabilities.”

“Our airport is the gateway of choice for travelers, airlines and businesses in Silicon Valley,” Lofgren said in a news release Monday. “I’m pleased that these important federal funds will be dedicated to keeping passengers, employees, and airplanes safe.”

Swalwell, who sits on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said the grant puts the airport “a big step closer to closing security gaps that threaten passenger safety.”

San Jose’s airport has been embarrassed by a series of security breaches over the past year and a half, starting with the high-profile case of Santa Clara teen Yahya Abdi, who in April 2014 stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet after scaling the airport’s perimeter fence in an effort to get back to his mother in Africa.

UPDATE @ 4:31 P.M.: Click here for my more complete story about the money, how it will be spent, and the past security breaches.

Posted on Monday, August 24th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

Mike Honda supports nuclear deal with Iran

Rep. Mike Honda, previously one of several Bay Area House Democrats who were still on the fence regarding the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, announced Thursday that he will support it.

honda.jpg“It is time to change the narrative with Iran and give peace a chance,” Honda said in an e-mailed statement, adding that reviewing the deal “has been one of the most substantial foreign policy decisions I have faced in Congress.”

Honda, D-San Jose, said that after meeting with Obama administration officials, experts, organizations, and constituents across the Bay Area to discuss the proposed deal’s specifics, he has come to believe it’s “the best way to verifiably prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

“The inspections, while not perfect, will open up Iran’s nuclear program and allow the international community to ensure firsthand that Iran does not have the materials nor the technologies to develop a nuclear weapon,” he said. “Should Iran not comply with the inspections and conditions of the agreement then the crippling international sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table will snap back into effect and once again isolate the Iranian regime.”

“Failure to accept this deal will likely not stop the easing of international sanctions and will squander the current international unity resulting in the United States having a far weaker negotiating position for possible alternative deals,” he added. “This agreement marks a first step, not a last step, in a long process of reengaging with Iran and ensuring that Iran permanently moves down a path away from nuclear weapons.”

He congratulated President Obama and the international negotiators who hashed out the deal.

“It is time to change the rhetoric, embrace diplomacy, and move away from unproductive saber rattling,” he said. “I will vote in favor of this deal, in favor of a nuclear weapons-free Iran, in favor of opening up the Iranian people to the world, and in favor of changing the broken paradigm that for decades has failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and bring a lasting peaceful solution.”

UPDATE @ 2:50 P.M.: Now Rep. Jerry McNerney has announced his support as well.

Jerry McNerney“I previously supported heavy sanctions against Iran as a means to block them from building a nuclear weapon. These sanctions alone, however, were not enough to stop Iran’s ongoing nuclear pursuit. Further diplomatic efforts with Iran became necessary, and those multilateral talks resulted in the JCPOA currently before Congress,” McNerney, D-Stockton, said in an emailed statement.

“I support this agreement because I believe the security of the United States will be better served if it is accepted by Congress,” he continued. “Standing together with our international partners, this agreement takes significant steps to deter Iran from building a nuclear weapon. It also still allows us to protect the interests of Israel and our other allies in the region.”

The deal would take Iran from its current two-month breakout time to produce a nuclear weapon to about a one-year period, McNerney said. “At the same time, the inspection requirements built into the agreement will have provided the United States with better capabilities to detect any questionable activity and take whatever action is necessary to stop Iran. Those provisions will put our country in a better, more secure position in 10 years than that of having no deal with Iran today.”

If Congress rejects the deal, “the chances of Iran continuing to restrain its nuclear ambitions and returning to the table are slim,” he concluded. “The better course of action is for Congress to accept the agreement and to closely monitor its implementation to ensure that Iran abides by the terms and obligations and works diplomatically to improve the stability and security of the Middle East.”

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Under: Iran, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 2 Comments »