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Congressman Albio Sires

Representing the 8th District of New Jersey

Washington Review, June 23, 2017

Jun 23, 2017
Washington Review

This week in Washington,  the Senate released their proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, I attended a Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on passenger rail service, and held a number of meetings.

Senate Health Care Proposal

Thursday’s release of the Senate Republicans’ proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act continues the attack on middle-class Americans. Like the House plan, the Senate proposal eliminates Medicaid expansion that has provided 14 million more Americans with access to health care in addition to capping Medicaid payments that states rely on to cover the health costs of children and seniors. Older Americans will also be charged an “age tax” that is up to 5 times more than younger individuals. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but targeting the health care of millions of hard-working Americans is not the answer and I will continue to fight to protect New Jersey from these devastating proposals.

Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing

On Thursday, I attended a Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee hearing to examine the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 Budget request and the lack of a robust infrastructure investment package. I am concerned by the proposed budget’s lack of adequate funding for Amtrak, which proposes a 50% reduction in total funding. Amtrak provides thousands of jobs for American workers and I sought answers as to how Congress can address the challenges facing rail service.  It is important that they receive the funding they need to keep America moving. I am also very concerned with the way the Administration’s budget could affect the future of the projects to repair and upgrade the rail networks that connect Hoboken to Manhattan.

Featured Legislation

This week, the House of Representatives voted on two pieces of legislation that would strengthen the American workforce. On Thursday, the House unanimously passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which now awaits further action in the Senate. This legislation would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. The Perkins Act is the primary law supporting the development of career and technical skills among students in secondary and postsecondary education, and includes funding for states to support career technical education programs. H.R. 2353 is critical to ensuring that students have the skills they need to enter the workforce and keep our economy productive.

Additionally, the House voted on H.R. 2842, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, which passed by a vote of 377 to 34 and now awaits further action in the Senate. H.R. 2842, would provide grants to states in order to provide wage subsidies to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) beneficiaries that would enable them to enter the workforce and retain employment.

Meetings

In discussing the potential privatization of the air traffic control system (ATC), it is important to understand the full affect privatization will have on every facet of the ATC system, particularly the hardworking men and women that allow our ATC system to operate. I met with representatives of various workforce organizations within the industry to understand how exactly a privatization transition will affect their work. I also met with industry representatives from the airline companies to better understand their perspective on ATC privatization.

Later, I spoke with representatives of the New Jersey Cable Telecommunications Association (NJTCA), to discuss their legislative priorities and how Congress can work with the industry to develop a more innovative and connected New Jersey.

My colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and I also met with President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama, to discuss how the United States can work with Panama to strengthen and maintain a strong U.S.-Panama relationship and work with our partners in Central America to address  challenges in the region.

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