Washington Review, February 26, 2016
This week in Washington I attended several meetings and completed Foreign Affairs Committee work.
I had several meetings this week on issues concerning 8th District residents. First, I met with representatives of the National Treasury Employee Union (NTEU) who were in Washington, DC for their annual Legislative Conference. We discussed issues that are important to federal employees. I also met with members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to talk about the impact of education opportunities and immigration reform on the Latino community. Later that day, Colonel Steven Tracy, and other members of the New Jersey Civil Air Patrol, stopped by my office. It was a pleasure to meet with them and get an update on the work their team has been doing with the U.S. Air Force.
My colleagues in the New Jersey Delegation and I were briefed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on New Jersey’s application to the Natural Disaster Resilience Competition. I am disappointed that New Jersey will only be receiving $15 million of $326 million requested for resiliency projects in New Jersey related to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. For a state which bared much of the brunt of the storm, New Jersey deserves significantly more funds to prepare our state for future storms.
Also this week, I participated in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Foreign Affairs Budget. We questioned Secretary of State, John Kerry, about the Administration’s FY2017 Foreign Affairs budget request. I asked how the Administration would address the continued abuse of human rights in Cuba. Dissidents are being targeted by the government and over the last year the number of detentions has increased. Freedom of expression, association, and assembly – the cornerstones of any democratic society - are still extremely limited. In addition, it is important that the Administration remain committed to bringing fugitives who fled to Cuba, such as Joanne Chesimard, who killed New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster, to justice while holding the Castro regime responsible for their actions. I also questioned Secretary Kerry on how the U.S. would remain committed to improving relations with Colombia.
My colleague on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and I met with the former President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, to discuss concerns in the region and how the United States and Colombia can continue working together. Finally, I had the opportunity to cohost a meeting with some fellow Members and the President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales. We discussed recent developments in Guatemala and the importance of strengthening Guatemalan institutions in order to combat corruption and work towards solutions for regional issues.