Press Releases

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WASHINGTON –Rep. Sam Farr, D- Calif., released the following statement after voting against H.R. 2048, the USA Freedom Act of 2015:

“Congress may have changed the name but the USA Freedom Act is just a watered down version of the Patriot Act. I commend the bipartisan effort to adhere to the 2nd Circuit Court’s ruling and to develop more safeguards to protect our civil liberties. Unfortunately, this bill still contains too many provisions that threaten the privacy of American citizens.

“I cannot vote for a bill that does not protect the privacy rights enshrined in the 4th Amendment. The risk of faulty information collection is not a risk I am willing to take with any American’s privacy.  Upholding the Constitution is non-negotiable.”

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WASHINGTON – Reps. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and James McGovern (D-Mass.) along with 17 other members of Congress sent a letter today to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressing their support for suspending the aerial fumigation of coca crops in Colombia. The program, funded by the United States as part of the war on drugs, creates a serious health threat for rural communities in Colombia. 
“Fumigation creates a huge health risk for the Colombian people while doing little to stop cocaine trafficking,” said Rep. Farr. “We need to invest in helping Colombian farmers grow other crops; not punishing them for a situation that is outside of their control.”
In March, the World Health Organization released a report saying that glyphosate, the pesticide used to aerially fumigate coca crops, contained carcinogenic agents. Additional negative health effects of fumigation have been recognized for many years; including skin problems, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal damage, mental health disorders, miscarriages, and fetal deformations.
In April, the Colombian Health Ministry recommended the immediate suspension of aerial fumigation. President Santos has since called on the National Drug Council to end the program. 
“I strongly support President Santos’s decision,” said Rep. McGovern. “Safeguarding rural communities is not only the right thing to do but also the ethical choice. I am glad that the U.S. government is willing to support President Santos in his decision.”
The environmental impacts of fumigation are also substantial. Pesticides sprayed from planes can destroy legal crops or contaminate soil and groundwater sources. Manual eradication, which does not possess the health or environmental risks of fumigation, is a more effective approach to removing illegal coca crops.
In addition to Farr and McGovern, the letter was signed by Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), José Serrano (D-N.Y.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
The full text of the letter can be viewed here.
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WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Appropriations today passed a provision authored by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., to allow sledding on the U.S. Capitol grounds when it snows. The report language was accompanied the FY 2016 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill which funds the operations of Congress. 
“Children with sleds are not a threat to our national security,” said Rep. Farr. “The Capitol does not belong to Congress, it belongs to the People.  Families should feel free to come and enjoy their Capitol on a snow day without fear of being turned away.”
The provision does not specifically lift the ban on sledding. Instead, it instructs the Capitol Police when they encounter sledders to ignore enforcement of certain rules governing public use of the Capitol grounds.
"Sometimes in Washington we get caught up in all the serious discussions that go on in this town that we forget what it’s like to have little fun," said Rep. Farr. “It only snows a handful of days here so let’s give the community a chance to get together and have some fun sledding at the Capitol.”
Congressional rules that prevent sledding have been in place since 1876. However, the rules have rarely been enforced. In 2010, the ban was temporarily lifted by the Capitol Police at the request of Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn. The Capitol Police began enforcing the ban this winter during a snowstorm in February, reportedly at the request of members of Congress.
Local residents responded by organizing a non-violent “sled in” protest during a snowstorm a few weeks later in March. Sledders used social media to coordinate the event under the hashtag #SledFreeorDie.  Despite the ban, the Capitol Police did not arrest anyone during the protest.


SALINAS, Calif. – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, announced that Josh Agbayani, a junior at Aptos High School, is the winner of the 2015 Congressional Art Competition:  An Artistic Discovery. His winning piece, “Drowning in Beds Unmade”, will be displayed in the halls of the Capitol along with other students’ works from across the country.  
“The energy and passion of these students can been seen in the works of art they create,” said Rep. Farr. “With so many talented young artists here on the Central Coast, it gets harder each year to select just one winner.”
Agbayani will travel to Washington, D.C., courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to be honored at a Congressional reception on June 24th. He also received a $3,000 renewable scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Leela Stevens, a senior at Aptos High School, was named the 2nd place winner with her piece “Red.” Her artwork will be prominently displayed in the congressman’s Washington office. San Benito High School senior Kayla Ramirez was named the third place winner, with “The Old Labor Worker”. Her piece will be displayed in the congressman’s Salinas office.
The Congressional Art Competition was open to all local high school students in the 20th congressional district. A total of 19 entries were submitted from 11 schools from the district. The entries were judged by Willow Aray, Executive Director of the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts.
The Artistic Discovery competition encourages and recognizes the rich artistic talents of young Americans. Students are allowed to submit various styles and types of art, ranging from paintings and drawings to photography and mixed media pieces. The winners are determined using criteria based on originality, skill of execution, excellence in use of materials and conceptual strength of the project.
The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, over 650,000 high school students have been involved with the nation-wide competition.
Last year, Robert Louis Stevenson sophomore Jung Hoon Ki, was awarded first place for his entry “Differing Perception of Covered Eyes.”  
The 2015 Congressional Art Competition winners are:

1st Place
Josh Agbayani
Aptos High School
"Drowning In Beds Unmade"
2nd Place
Leela Stevens
Aptos High School
3rd Place
Kayla Ramirez
San Benito High School
"The Old Labor Worker"
Honorable Mentions:
Jasmin Arevalo, Everette Alvarez High School
Maya Yokoyama, Aptos High School
Carolyn Olaguivel, Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School
Devon Furtado, Pacific Coast Charter School
Zennia Dillon, Pacific Collegiate School
Please click on the images above to see a high-resolution version.



WASHINGTON – Rep. Sam Farr, D- Calif., released the following statement on the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in marriage equality cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky:
“Love is love. Sometimes the simplest message makes the most powerful statement. A person’s civil rights should not be denied because of who they are or because of who they love. Equal justice under is the law is the foundation of this great country and denying anyone the freedom to marry weakens that foundation. 
“Marriage equality allies from all over the country gathered on the Supreme Court steps today to show their support for LGBT rights. The majority of Americans believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will also be on the right side of history and affirm that all Americans should have the freedom to marry the person they love.” 
Rep. Farr joined with 210 other Congressional Democrats to write an amicus brief in support of marriage equality.