What a month January already is proving to be! It started with my swearing-in on January 3. We had over 175 people from the 15th District attend. Every city, from Union City to San Ramon, was represented. It felt like a wedding. Except my vows were to uphold the Constitution, faithfully represent my district, and vote my conscience, not my party. I was sworn in formally on the House floor by Speaker John Boehner. I was a little stunned by the emotion Speaker John Boehner displayed when he was sworn in and spoke. After all, he'd done this before. Why so emotional, I thought. But boy, did the emotions hit me like a Mack truck when the Speaker pivoted his remarks to swear in the 84 members of the freshmen class and the rest of Congress. I looked around. Hands were raised high. My mom and dad seated above me in the visitors' gallery. It's emotional just writing about it again. The responsibility vested in me by my constituents weighed heavily upon me. I didn't want to let them down. And I will work hard everyday to make sure I don't.
The formal swearing-in was followed by a ceremonial swearing-in reception I hosted at the room used for the Committee on House Administration. Our guests were regaled with a warm-up speech from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Followed by visits from Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jackie Speier, and Jerry McNerney. The MC of the event, former Representative Ellen Tauscher. She knows how to liven up a crowd! I was sworn in by my former boss, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, with my left hand on the Bible my mother was given at birth. She proudly held it.
The next day I returned to my roots of Congressional Intern, giving Capitol tours to over 100 of our guests. The most thrilling moment was when I took the group onto the House Floor. Prior to reaching the floor, I told our guests about everything from the Capitol Crypt to the Old Senate Chamber. But when I walked them onto the floor I was speechless -- something that rarely overcomes me! I was never allowed to take tour groups on the House Floor, so I had no idea what to say when I took my own guests. Fortunately, the Capitol Visitors Center escort who was with me took me off pause, politely asking, "Sir, would you like me to take it from here?"
Priority Number One -- New Jobs, Opportunities & Prosperity for our Area
The thrust of my campaign was to work to repair our local economy, create new jobs, and invest in new technologies and the students who are our future. I'm proud that my two committee assignments allow me to do that: The Committee on Science, Space and Technology and The Committee on Homeland Security.
On the Science Committee, I will be able to work to support both national laboratories in our district, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia -- they happen to be our largest employer and allow me to proudly say I represent the smartest district in America. I will also work to make sure we are getting government and business on the same page, by investing in federal research and transferring -- as soon as possible -- that research to the private market. This will create new, local jobs as well as increase our ability to export goods and services to the global marketplace. I will also work to make sure we are investing in our children, by pushing to expand the scope of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education in our schools. If we are to remain globally competitive, our children need to improve performance in these crucial areas.
As for Homeland Security, my highest priority will be keeping our country safe, with a focus on the emerging threat of a cyber attack. It's very likely that the next catastrophic attack will not bring down a building, but rather a network, affecting millions of Americans' pocketbooks and crippling our economy. But it's not too late to partner the resources of government with key stakeholders in critical infrastructure and the business community to make us more secure. I will work to use prior experience in law enforcement and knowledge of the business community to encourage information sharing and make sure we are equipped to protect and defend against sophisticated attacks. This committee will also enable me to help protect the critical ports of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as ensure safety on mass transit systems like BART.
These two committees will allow me to work to grow our economy while also making sure we protect it against a devastating attack. I see it as a "Grow and Defend" role.
Gun Safety Measures
With the recent Newtown shooting, it's clear that our country must engage in a dialogue about gun safety and reducing gun violence. Not just mass shootings, but what's happening in our urban areas. Oakland, for example, has already had six homicides this year, and January is not even half over. If we do nothing, we can expect nothing to change. I am the son of a retired police officer who hunted and still owns guns. I grew up around guns and respect the Second Amendment. However, I do believe that a sensible measure -- and not the only measure -- is passing a federal assault weapons ban. This would change basically nothing for Californians. We already have an assault weapons ban; a federal ban would simply require the rest of the country to abide by the same law we have followed for years. I also believe that a solution can be reached in a bipartisan manner, involving gun owners and victims' groups. I am proud that I have been helping lead on this issue in Congress and believe that sensible, reasonable measures will make us safer.
Assistant Whip Appointment to House Leadership
Finally, I am honored to announce that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer asked me to serve in the House Leadership as an Assistant Whip. Throughout orientation I have worked hard to get to know my colleagues and learn about their districts, families, and priorities. The role of assistant whip will allow me to work with House Leadership to advance the cause of growing our economy, strengthening our middle class, and reducing our debt.
District Office // Washington, DC Office // Electronic/Social Media Information
Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. Our district office is located at 5075 Hopyard Road, Suite 220, Pleasanton, CA 94588. Our Washington office is located in Room 501 of the Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515. And, you can also visit and contact me through my website at swalwell.house.gov. On my website, you can view my voting record, sign up for my e-newsletter, and access my Twitter and Facebook pages.