Washington Review, April 1, 2019
Last week in Washington, the House of Representatives voted on historic measures to overturn the President’s veto and establish pay equality for all Americans regardless of gender. I attended two hearings to question Administration officials on difference aspects of the disastrous Trump Budget, as well as chaired the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing on corruption in Latin America. I also met with the First Lady of Venezuela to reiterate my support for the restoration of democracy and human rights in her country as well as the swift implementation of free and fair elections.
On February 26, 2019, I voted in favor of H.J.Res.46, which was introduced by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and declares that President Trump’s national emergency for the southern border is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. H.J.Res.46 passed the House by a vote 245-182 and on March 14, 2019, passed the Senate by 59-41. President Trump vetoed this resolution on March 15, 2019, which then required a two-thirds majority in the House to overturn.
Last week, I voted to overturn this veto and invalidate the national emergency. Unfortunately, the motion to overturn the President’s veto of H.J.Res.46 only passed by a vote of 248-181, falling below the two-thirds requirement. I will however continue to fight this wasteful use of taxpayer money and pursue humane solutions for our immigration system.
On Thursday, the House considered, H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). This legislation seeks to finally end gender-based wage discrimination in America and guarantee women receive equal pay for equal work. H.R. 7 passed the House by a vote of 242-187 and as an original cosponsor I was proud to vote in favor of this historic legislation for equal rights. Additionally, I voted in favor of H.Res.124, introduced by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) which condemns President Trump’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military and urges the Department of Defense to not reinstate a discriminatory policy. H.Res.124 passed the House by a vote of 238-185.
On Tuesday, I sat down with members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship and learn updates on the region. The next day, I met with representatives of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to brief them on my concerns for New Jersey and discuss the important work they do throughout the country.
On Tuesday, I questioned Eric Hagan, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the draconian cuts to health services in President Trump’s budget. Specifically, I questioned him about the Administration’s addition of a work requirement to Medicaid. Deputy Secretary Hagan admitted before the Committee that the change in policy could result in a loss of coverage for enrollees. I am appalled by the Administration’s haphazard approach to our nation’s health care.
On Wednesday, I met with my colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to markup a number of bills, including legislation addressing the consequences of the disastrous government shutdown. We considered bills to fairly pay employees of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our brave men and women serving in the Coast Guard. Both passed the Committee and are now awaiting a vote on the Floor on the House of Representatives.
This week, I met with the First Lady of Venezuela Fabiana Rosales, wife of Interim President Juan Guaidó, to reiterate my strong support for free and fair elections in Venezuela. We discussed the cowardly crackdown by the Maduro regime to intimidate his political opponents and the tireless fight to restore democracy to Venezuela.
I also chaired a hearing for the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere focused on the international implications of the Odebrecht scandal. In a landmark agreement with authorities in the United States, Brazil, and Switzerland, representatives of the Odebrecht gas and oil organization admitted to paying $788 million in bribes to politicians and office holders throughout Latin America to secure public contracts worth more than $3.3 billion. Expert witnesses delivered testimony on combatting corruption in the region, ensuring those involved in this brazen level of corruption are held responsible, and protecting U.S. financial systems from such schemes.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held our annual hearing on the President’s budget proposal on questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the Administration’s proposals. Cutting over $12 billion from the Department of State and USAID, would paralyze our position as an international leader and threaten our standing with the global community.
The House of Representatives has started the annual appropriations process which determines the allocation of federal funding for the upcoming fiscal year, FY 2020. Last week, I submitted my requests to the four subcommittees which produce the following spending packages: Labor, Health and Human Services; State and Foreign Operations; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch.
I joined my colleagues in asking the committee to allocate $5.6 billion for critical Community Health Centers that serve the most vulnerable in our community, $50 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to finally study measures to effectively reduce the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and $100 million for job training programs for veterans experiencing homelessness through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP).