Washington Review, August 1, 2014
Over the past two weeks in Washington, I had a series of meetings with constituents, participated in several Committee and Subcommittee hearings, spoke on the Floor of the House, and voted on key legislation.
Last week, I participated in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, where we discussed the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and its impact on U.S. interests, including the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL. While the Iraqi military has made attempts to keep ISIL at bay, it has failed to reclaim the cities under ISIL control. President Obama has sent various U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Iraq in order to protect U.S. citizens and property as well as advise Iraqi military forces, and I hope that this conflict will be peacefully resolved soon.
As the Ranking Member on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I held a hearing last week on the relationship between the United States and the Dominican Republic. The U.S.-Dominican Republic relationship has been centered on security cooperation, governance, trade, and human rights issues, particularly surrounding Haiti as well as the thousands of unaccompanied child migrants detained along our southern border. I was pleased to hear from the panelists in attendance, and I believe the United States should continue to work diligently with our ally to strengthen ties and overcome the issues our two countries may face together.
I then met with local educators from the New Jersey Education Association in order to discuss how the quality of education in our public schools has improved. I was glad to hear of their initiatives to enrich public education across the state.
I also spoke on the Floor of the House last week to celebrate July as Park and Recreation Month, which aims to connect Americans with their natural outdoor environment through exercise, recreation, relaxation, and congregation. I believe that all cities, neighborhoods and communities should have access to parks, which is why I introduced H.R. 2424, the Community Parks Revitalization Act. Parks and recreation facilities play a vital role in our everyday lives and I am committed to ensuring these spaces receive the resources they deserve.
Finally, last week the House passed H.R. 4411, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act. This legislation, of which I am a cosponsor, would tighten sanctions against financial institutions that help orchestrate the activities of Hezbollah, an Islamist terrorist organization based in Lebanon. It also targets al-Manar, the Lebanese television station that continues to spread Hezbollah’s propaganda. As Hezbollah continues to expand its reach in the region and exporting its brand of terror to Syria, Gaza, and beyond, we must do all we can to cut off their resources and diminish their capabilities.
This week, I attended a Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing to assess the evolving crisis in Ukraine in light of the recent shoot down of Malaysian Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. This unfortunate disaster demonstrates that as a global community, we are all impacted by instability across the globe. I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the 298 victims and all those who suffered losses due to this reprehensible tragedy.
I also had the chance to meet with several Monarch Housing Associates from New Jersey to discuss top housing priorities; including funding the Housing Trust Fund and the need for more Section 8 housing vouchers in order to help end homelessness. Monarch Housing has found that as of January 28, 2014, 13,900 homeless men, women and children were counted across the state of New Jersey. As a strong supporter of safe and affordable housing, I will continue to work to fight homelessness across New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District, and I appreciate the support of Monarch Housing.