PUBLISHED: January 5, 2023
Last month, Rep. Nanette Barragán held two end-of-year legislative briefings in San Pedro and
Long Beach, just two of several such briefings she held throughout the 44th congressional
Barragán led the John Lewis National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Research Endowment Revitalization Act.
The law increases investments into schools conducting critical minority health and health
disparities research, like Charles Drew University, and improves diversity in the scientific
workforce. President Joe Biden signed this bill into law on March 18, 2022.
The Inflation Reduction Act makes historic investments and reduces costs, including capping
out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses at $2,000 per year in Medicare Part D; lets Medicare
negotiate prescription drug prices to reduce costs; and making vaccines free for Medicare
The PACT Act expands benefits for veterans by expanding access to Veterans Affairs health
services for veterans with toxic exposure during their service; and veterans now don’t have to
prove their service led to illness for 20 or more illnesses, including many cancers.
If that weren’t enough, Barragán secured $925,000 for East Los Angeles College in South Gate
to create a comprehensive training hub for healthcare workers; she secured $700,000 to upgrade
clinical laboratories for Cal State University of Dominguez Hills’ College of Health, Human
Services and Nursing; $50,000 to enroll and provide care to an additional 800 uninsured patients
in a health services program and another $50,000 to purchase new equipment for clinical
laboratories to provide testing to patients at a lower cost than commercial labs.
And these were just the health-related pieces of legislation Barragán got done last year.
The congresswoman said the briefings are the result of people asking her on the street what she
and her congressional colleagues are doing in Washington.
The top three takeaways from the briefing were the Inflation Reduction Act; the Infrastructure
Bill; and the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill which includes $4 million to build a brand new
Boys and Girls Club in the Harbor Gateway — a bill that got passed and signed into law before
the new year had started.
Though the 2022 midterm elections went better than expected for the Democrats, that doesn’t
mean we can expect a whole lot of good work to come out of the next Congress. Barragán said
that if anything, there’s going to be a lot more Republican-led investigations.
“There certainly is not going to be legislation that really looks for how we improve the lives of
the American people. [Instead,] it’s going to be more of what can we undo? Who can we
investigate? I think that’s what it’s going to be. So it’s going to be a step backward in my
opinion,” Barragán said.
She noted that people who weren’t on committees during the last Congress, members who
promoted violence against members of Congress in days leading up to Jan. 6 and after, will have
leverage over the incoming House speaker.
When a lot of this funding starts to hit the streets of America, the American people may get the
impression that it’s the Republicans in Congress, rather than the Democrats who are responsible
for this infrastructure spending because the contracts take time to roll out.
“It happens every time the Democrats get it done,” Barragán said. “It takes a year to implement.
Then when the other party is in charge? Guess what they do? They absolutely act like they voted
for it and supported it and made it happen. On the big items, like the inflation reduction act, we
didn’t get any Republican support. It was all Democrats. So when you’re talking about capping
at $35 on insulin for people on Medicare… this wasn’t a bipartisan effort. The Infrastructure and
Jobs Bill, we had maybe eight Republicans support it. The rest of them said, “no,” let’s not
invest in America’s infrastructure they did say, but give me the money.”
Barragán agrees that the tactic is intended to make it look like the Biden administration isn’t
getting anything done, but more importantly, it’s a familiar play from a well-worn playbook.
“It’s not just with this president,” Barragán said. “It happened with Obama where they said
we’re going to obstruct, we’re going to stop things from happening, we are just going to say no
regardless of the benefit to the American people. And that’s not a way to govern, and that’s not a
way to make progress for the American people. And this is all about the people, right? Not
corporations, nonprofits, but the people.”
Barragán is going into her fourth term, so it’s been six years. Her freshman term came at the
start of the Donald Trump administration in 2016.
“Those were some rough years. And what did they get done? They focused on cutting taxes for
the rich top 1% and corporations. Not for the people, but for the corporations, the well-off, and
the well-to-do,” Barragán said.