Making Government Work | Congressman Ami Bera

Making Government Work

Back at home in Sacramento County, I know sometimes it can feel like Washington is out of touch and doesn’t listen. People are frustrated when politicians in both parties blame one another without offering solutions, while special interests set the agenda and middle class families struggle in a changing economy.

As your representative, I took an oath to serve you. This is why I’ve made it my priority to make government work, so we put people ahead of politics to move our country forward. Congress should be a place for service, not for politicians who only look out to protect their own careers, pay, and perks.

That’s why the first bill I helped introduce and pass was No Budget, No Pay because if Members of Congress don’t do their jobs and pass a budget on time, they shouldn’t get paid. I’ve repeatedly voted against congressional pay raises and am fighting perks like letting Members of Congress fly on first class while having taxpayers pick up the bill. I’m also the Co-Chair of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, the only bipartisan group of its kind in Washington, where both Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on the crucial challenges we all face. I’m supporting strong legislation to restore trust in our democracy so more people can participate and so special interest groups and billionaires don’t have undue influence over our government.

My office is working hard to do all it can to serve local families. That includes help with Social Security and Medicare issues, backlogged veterans’ benefits, and much more. We’ve now helped more than 13,000 local residents and have helped return more than $7 million that was owed to local taxpayers.

Getting work done in our nation’s capital isn’t always easy, but it’s my job as your representative. Instead of gridlock, we need to find common ground and work together to move forward. Through community meetings and the messages you send to my office, I'm here to bring your voice to Washington.

Here's more on what I'm doing to make government work for you:

Fighting Congressional Perks and Pay Raises: No Budget, No Pay and More

Fighting Congressional Perks and Pay Raises: No Budget, No Pay and More
As your representative, I took an oath to serve you. To make our government work, we need to make Congress a place for service – not for politicians who only look out for their own best interests.

  • No Budget, No Pay: It’s simple – if Members of Congress don’t do their jobs and pass a budget on time, they shouldn’t get paid. Members of Congress should have to live by the same rules that other Americans are expected to live by. Truck drivers, nurses, and small business owners don’t get paid if they don’t do their jobs. The same should be true for Congress. 

    I was proud to help pass No Budget, No Pay into law in 2013 and I’m now fighting to make it permanent. I’m pleased to share that we’ve made some important progress since then. I’ve now voted for two bipartisan budgets that have become law, including most recently the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. This new budget lasts for two years and was broadly supported by both Republicans and Democrats, a critical step towards making our government work.

  • Stopping Congressional Pay Raises: At a time when so many families are struggling, the last folks who should get a pay raise are Members of Congress. That’s why I’ve repeatedly voted against raising congressional salaries.

    It’s especially wrong for Congress to continue to get paid for causing chaos. That’s why I’ve supported legislation to ensure Members of Congress won’t get paid if the government were to shut down because of needless partisan politics. I also introduced bipartisan legislation to cut congressional salaries by 8.2 percent, the same amount as automatic across the board spending cuts that have threatened to impact services that many Americans rely on.

  • Standing Against Congressional Perks: Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for lavish perks for Members of Congress. That’s why I’m supporting the Coach-Only Airfare for Capitol Hill Act to ban first class airfares for Members of Congress when it's on the taxpayer's dime. Many American families fly coach every day, and there’s no reason why Members of Congress shouldn’t do the same. I also voted for a bipartisan amendment to ban Members of Congress from leasing expensive cars with your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. The American people's elected representatives shouldn't be able to rent luxury cars and then have taxpayers pay for it.

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Making Government Work for Sacramento County:

Making government work for you means not only bringing your voice to Washington, but also serving you and the community right here in Sacramento County. That’s why I’ve directed my office to help people cut through government red tape, hold events to help solve their problems, and to connect people with any resources they may need.

For instance, we've now helped more than 6,000 local residents and helped return more than $3 million in benefits owed to local taxpayers. This includes Social Security checks, tax refunds, and veterans' benefits. This is money going directly back into the pocketbooks of local residents helping our economy.

We’ve also held dozens of office hours at local libraries to more conveniently serve you in your own neighborhood, workshops for small business owners, and events to help people who are being hurt by our drought. We’ve hosted job fairs to help unemployed residents find work and created a comprehensive Job Seeker Guide to help people find jobs and assistance while they look for work.

You can refer to this graphic to learn more about what this all means and to see if you can get help too. Please always feel free to call my office at (916) 635-0505 or visit to learn more.
Making Government Work for Sacramento County

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Working with Both Parties: Co-Chairing the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus

With my fellow Problem Solvers when we introduced a bipartisan package of bills called Make Government Work to cut waste and inefficiency.

Instead of name calling and finger pointing, people in both parties need to do a better job of listening to one another and finding common ground. That’s why I’m proud to co-chair the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus.

The Problem Solvers are the only bipartisan group of its kind in Washington. Since I’ve had the privilege of serving you, I’ve helped grow the Problem Solvers membership to more than 90 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. We’ve introduced bipartisan legislation together to eliminate wasteful spending, save taxpayer money, and make government more efficient. We’re also supporting a new national strategic agenda with bipartisan goals that both parties can agree on – including creating new jobs and energy independence – to move our nation forward. 

  • 21st Century Health Care for Heroes: I was proud to introduce and pass the bipartisan 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act with my fellow Problem Solver, Chris Gibson, a retired Army Colonel and my Republican colleague from New York. This bill, which is now law, requires the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration to streamline and update their electronic health records. This will help both reduce the backlog of Veterans’ benefits at the VA and get our heroes the care they've earned.

    This law is now being implemented, and I’m encouraged that both departments are making progress towards updating their records and making necessary changes. In December 2015, I was proud to vote for a bipartisan government funding bill to provide resources to help make sure these goals are met.

    With my Republican colleague, Congressman Chris Gibson, during a meeting with the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs on the implementation of the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act.

  • A National Strategic Agenda: The Problem Solvers are leading the charge to establish a National Strategic Agenda. This is an agenda with clear goals that both parties can agree on to help move our nation forward in a positive way. Our agenda focuses on:

• Creating 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years
• Balancing the federal budget by 2030
• Securing Medicare and Social Security for the next 75 years 
• Making America energy secure by 2024

Our agenda includes input from local community leaders in government and business, who know what it takes to work together with people of varying perspectives to achieve a shared goal. This is why I invited the co-founder of No Labels, Mark McKinnon, to join me in Sacramento County for a meeting with area leaders and stakeholders. In partnership with the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, No Labels is a non-partisan organization that’s dedicated to getting past the gridlock in Washington.

  • Bipartisan Solutions to Move America Forward: The Problem Solvers are supporting a number of bipartisan initiatives to help reduce waste and make our government more efficient.
    • Government Transformation Act: This bill would make government more efficient and effective by creating a special commission to find and eliminate waste at all levels of government. Any recommendations by the commission would have to receive an up or down vote so Congress can't avoid making the hard choices it needs to.
    • Buy Smarter and Save Act: Many families often shop at stores such as Costco or Sam's Club because you can buy more groceries and other goods in bulk, often at a cheaper price. Many businesses take the same approach by buying their office supplies and other needs in the same way to save money. Unfortunately, the federal government often doesn’t take this common sense approach. This bill would help us better leverage the federal government's massive buying power to make sure taxpayers always get the biggest bang for their buck.

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Pushing for More Transparency and Openness in Government

The American people should be able to know what their elected leaders are up to and how we are working on their behalf. Greater transparency allows people to make more informed decisions about the direction of our country, ensures that special interests aren’t unduly influencing crucial decisions, and ultimately can help restore faith in our democracy. This is all necessary for making government work.

  • Responding to you: Listening to you is my most important job, because I have the honor of representing you in our nation's capital. Through community meetings and the messages you send to my office, my priority is to hear your perspective and bring your voice to Washington. In fact, my office has now replied to 162,401 of your phone calls, letters, faxes and emails since January of 2013.

    I take great pride in reading your letters and each one makes a difference. My staff and I make every effort to integrate your thoughts and suggestions into my work. Understanding your views, even your criticism if we respectfully disagree, is important so that I may serve you to the best of my ability. You’re always welcome to contact my office to ask a question or to share your views, or visit my Responding to you page to see me reply to your letters.

  • Ensuring the American People Can Watch Congress: Controlling what the public can see based on whom is speaking and what is being said runs counter to our principles as a country. But today in the House of Representatives, congressional leaders control the TV cameras on the House floor, and in June of 2015 they even turned the cameras off to stop the public from seeing what was happening. This is why I introduced legislation to make sure that cameras in the House of Representatives are operated in a nonpartisan manner. I’m proud to say my legislation has been endorsed by nonpartisan organizations that champion transparency and good governance including the Sunlight Foundation, Public Citizen, and Common Cause.

  • Fixing the Congressional Budget Process: Today, the process Congress uses to create and pass budgets simply doesn’t work. That’s why I’m supporting the Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act. This would create a new, 2 year budget process. During the first year Congress would debate and pass a budget, and the next year Congress would oversee government agencies to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

  • Oversight of Government Agencies: Congress has an important role in not only passing legislation, but also holding committee hearings and investigations to hold government agencies accountable. For example, I have the honor of serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee. I've taken part in hearings on the War in Afghanistan, the rights of women and girls, how to grow our economy through trade, and more. This is critical for making sure our foreign policy keeps Americans safe while we defend the ideals that define us as the world's greatest democracy.

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Restoring Trust in our Democracy and Elections

We need to restore trust in our democracy to make our government work. Each and every American should feel confident that their voices are being heard by their elected representatives and their government. And a key way to do that is by protecting the right to vote one of the most central, bedrock pillars of our democracy. We should be doing more, not less, to ensure that every eligible American citizen can bring their voice to Washington through the ballot box. Likewise, we should also do more to lessen the role of special interests and money in our politics. Millionaires and billionaires shouldn’t be able to drown out the voices of working and middle class families.

  • Voting Rights Advancement Act: Every eligible American voter should be able to take part in our elections to shape the direction of our country. That’s why I’m supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill would help ensure more Americans – regardless of race, age, or disability – can exercise their right to vote. It restores crucial legal protections from the original, landmark civil rights legislation – the bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965. This legislation includes updates to reflect the current needs of our country, including by ensuring voters are aware of changes to election rules and so independent observers are available at polling places when needed.
  • Voter Empowerment Act: This bill helps fight discrimination at the ballot box by strengthening criminal penalties for voter intimidation from one year to five years. It would also make it illegal to knowingly deceive people who provide inaccurate voter information – such as the wrong voting times and locations – in an effort to make sure their votes won’t be cast.
  • Greater Transparency and Disclosure in Election Spending: At a minimum, we need more transparency when it comes to political spending so citizens can know who is trying to sway their vote. But special interests can create organizations such as “Super PACs” to hide their donations from the public. That’s why I joined with my congressional colleagues to urge the President to ensure federal contractors reveal their political spending. If you do business with the federal government, you should at least disclose how you’re trying to influence it.
  • Government by the People Act: All Americans, not just the wealthy, should be able to take part in our democracy. That’s why I’m supporting the Government by the People Act. This bill empowers small, grassroots donors by creating a $25 “My Voice” tax credit so more people can support a candidate that represents their interests. It also creates a new “Freedom from Influence” matching fund so candidates don’t have to rely on special interests. This new fund would match small contributions that are $150 or less at a rate of 6-to-1 if a candidate declares they won’t take individual contributions that are over $1,000, donations from Political Action Committees (PACs), and other special interest groups.
  • Close the Floodgates Act: Today, a wealthy contributor may legally donate more than $1.5 million to either political party over the course of a two year election cycle. I’m supporting the Close the Floodgates Act to impose stronger limits on these types of contributions to protect the integrity of our democracy.

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More on Making Government Work

Jun 10, 2020 Ami's Updates
June 15 Telephone Town Hall
I’m holding a Telephone Town Hall on Monday, June 15 from 6:00-7:00 PDT.
May 13, 2020 In The News

U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, on May 7 praised Sacramento area residents for following Sacramento County’s stay-at-home order, and helping to “flatten the curve” against the spreading of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We can be proud of ourselves in the Sacramento area for really following the stay-at-home order and avoiding the worst of this pandemic,” he said.

Mar 31, 2020 In The News

(KTXL) — Congressman Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, hosted a telephone town hall Tuesday night to provide an update on the federal response to COVID-19. 

The local lawmaker who represents California’s seventh district was joined by public health experts as they took the time to answer community questions about what’s being done to protect people both physically and financially. 

“This is a time for us to come together, not just as a community but a country and a world,” Rep. Bera said.

Feb 21, 2020 Ami's Updates

Here's a quick update on the work my team and I are doing to serve our community. 

Coronavirus Update:

While the threat of the coronavirus is relatively low in the United States at this time, we must be vigilant and prepared. 

That’s why I hosted the first congressional hearing on the coronavirus outbreak this month. We hosted expert health officials who discussed how the U.S. can best respond to this growing public health threat. 

Dec 17, 2019 Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) voted today for two appropriations packages to avoid a government shutdown and keep the government funded through FY2020.

Feb 19, 2019 Ami's Updates

I’m holding a town hall on Wednesday evening at the Folsom Public Library. This is an opportunity to give you an update and talk about the issues that matter most to Sacramento County.

Listening to you is my most important job – and I’d like to hear from you! My staff will also be available to help you with backlogged veterans’ benefits, Social Security and Medicare issues, and much more.

Jan 30, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today elected Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07) as Vice Chairman of the full committee. Bera released the following statement:

Jan 23, 2019 Page
Jan 11, 2019 Page

Hundreds of thousands of people are working without pay and others have been furloughed as a result of the partial federal shutdown. We must end this crisis before more people get hurt.

If you’re being impacted by the shutdown, I want to hear from you. Please leave your information so I know your story. Listening to you is my most important job. And as always, my staff and I are here to help in any way possible. Please feel free to call us at (916) 635-0505 or visit to learn more.

Jan 11, 2019 Ami's Updates

I sent an email update on Friday, January 11th, 2019 about the government shutdown. Please join my email updates now so you don't miss any in the future!