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By Rep. Mike Levin

As we begin 2022, I want to take a brief moment to recognize the challenges and progress our community and our country experienced last year.

We began 2021 in one of the most challenging phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of COVID hospitalizations was at its highest point ever, and more than 10 million Americans were unemployed. 

Since then, more than 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, we added nearly six million jobs, and the number of Americans filing for unemployment reached its lowest point since 1969. Our kids—including my two young children, who attend our local public elementary school—are back in school for in-person learning.

There is no question that the Omicron variant is presenting significant challenges, but with the widespread adoption of vaccines, we are well-positioned to beat this virus and continue to grow our economy.

A lot of this progress is thanks to the American Rescue Plan, a historic piece of legislation that President Biden signed last March that provided relief to struggling families, frontline workers, and local schools and businesses.

In fact, families and organizations in South Orange County and North County San Diego received more than $350 million in federal relief from that bill.

My colleagues and I also passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. That bill includes funding for projects similar to the San Clemente Shoreline Protection Project to address coastal erosion and restore our beaches, the Doheny Desalination Project to strengthen our drought resilience, and more.

Also, as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Natural Resources Committee, and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I worked with members of both parties to introduce 31 pieces of legislation last year, including seven bills or amendments that passed the House of Representatives and two that were signed into law. That’s on top of the 16 bills that I introduced and had signed into law during the 116th Congress. 

Also last year, my staff and I responded to more than 58,000 constituent messages and helped more than 1,100 constituents with issues involving federal agencies, saving them more than $13.4 million total.

Institutions in our communities received more than $240 million in federal grants last year, and local small businesses received $9.5 million in federal aid. 

While we had our fair share of challenges in 2021, we also made incredible progress. I know there is much more to do in 2022, and I look forward to continuing this important work on your behalf.

U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a second term in 2020 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.

Editor’s Note: With the state’s Primary Election approaching in the coming months, Levin’s latest Levin Letter will serve as his final column for Picket Fence Media in 2022.

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