Washington Review, January 31, 2017
Last week in Washington, D.C., I attended briefings, introduced and voted on legislation, and was renamed to several Subcommittees in the 115th Congress.
On Monday, I introduced H.Res.54, a bipartisan resolution recognizing Argentina’s economic reforms and reaffirming the U.S.-Argentina partnership. Since his election in November 2015, President Mauricio Macri has been committed to rebuilding the Argentine economy, combating corruption, attracting foreign direct investment, as well as strengthening and defending human rights and freedoms both in Argentina and abroad. In addition, President Macri has continued to investigate and prosecute those who are responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires and the death of AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, 2015. During the 114th Congress, I traveled to Argentina to discuss security and law enforcement cooperation and visited the site of the 1994 bombing. H.Res.54 recognizes these actions as well as President Macri’s efforts to improve ties with the United States. This resolution also encourages the State Department to increase cooperation with Argentina on areas of mutual concern. H.Res.54 is currently pending review before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Last week, President Trump reinstated the Global Gag rule which could negatively affect the healthcare of millions of women around the world. As a result, I cosponsored the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act, introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey, which would permanently repeal the Global Gag rule. The Global Gag rule prohibits all global health organizations that receive federal funding from discussing or performing abortions, including to protect the life of a mother. This law prevents doctors and nurses from informing their patients about the dangers of illegal and unsafe procedures. Rep. Lowey’s legislation would ensure that eligible foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can operate U.S. supported health programs abroad without sacrificing their right to free speech. It would also help expand access to health programs for women around the world.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives held a disappointing vote on H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. This legislation would permanently authorize the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion or abortion coverage. It would also ban individuals and small businesses from receiving federal subsidies and tax credits to purchase health care plans that include elective abortion coverage. Furthermore, it would prevent the District of Columbia from using its own local funds to provide abortion services. I voted against H.R. 7 because I fully support a woman’s right to choose the medical services she needs and feel that this legislation would roll back health care rights for women and result in millions of women having restricted access to comprehensive health coverage. Unfortunately, H.R. 7 passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 238-183.
Last week, I was selected to continue serving as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In addition, I will also serve on three subcommittees during the 115th Congress; the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; and the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. During the 115th Congress I will continue to work with my colleagues in order to increase infrastructure investments, protect workers’ rights, and strengthen the sustainability and safety of our transportation systems.
I was also selected, by my colleagues in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to continue serving as a member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. It has been an honor to serve as Ranking Member since the 113th Congress and I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in order to strengthen relations with our neighbors in the region as well as to protect human rights and freedoms from those who seek to oppress them.
Last week, I condemned a number of President Trump’s executive actions. On Wednesday, President Trump directed the Administration to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. I feel that building a wall would cost the taxpayers billions of dollars while doing nothing to reform our broken immigration system. The President also made an announcement regarding Sanctuary Cities which threatens to revoke critical law enforcement funding. Sanctuary cities exist to encourage residents to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement officials without the fear that they will be detained. By withholding funding from these cities, more people would be at risk by making it harder for cops to do their jobs.
On Friday, President Trump suspended refugee resettlement and made changes in immigration policy for certain countries. Specifically, the Administration halted all refugee admissions into the U.S. for 120 days and suspended visas into the United States for all individuals from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Iraq. These actions discriminate against Muslims who are desperately trying to flee war zones and denies innocent civilians the opportunity to seek security and stability.
Last week, I attended a briefing with officials from the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The officials discussed the impact of the July coup in Turkey on Turkish immigration and asylum seekers.