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Washington Review, April 18, 2016

Apr 18, 2016
Washington Review

While in Washington this week, I held several meetings, participated in a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, and attended a number of events.

Meetings

This week, I met with Union County Manager, Alfred Faella, to discuss the County’s plans for the next year, including a number of transportation improvement projects.  We also talked about the importance of appropriating funds in fiscal year 2017 for programs like the Community Development Block Grant program which provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique development needs.  Later, I met with members of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of New Jersey.  They stopped by my office to discuss legislative issues that affect their ability to provide care to patients. 

I also met with members from InterAction, the largest coalition of internationally-focused non-governmental organizations that are working across the globe to provide humanitarian relief or development assistance.  Lindsay Coates, President of InterAction, was able to update me on various projects in different regions and we discussed efforts to advance global health and development priorities in the coming year.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the New Jersey National Guard and the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.  We discussed military priorities and the importance of various National Guard plans and strategies.  Later that day, I met with members of the New Jersey Restaurant Association to review issues that affect the food service industry.  I also met with the Student Council President, Guillermo Guasp-Pérez, from the University of Puerto Rico to discuss the financial challenges facing Puerto Rico.  Guillermo gave me his perspective on the island’s finances and on potential legislation that seeks to resolve the debt crisis in Puerto Rico.

On Thursday, my colleague and Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Rep. Jeff Duncan, and I, met with the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Francisco ‘Paco’ Palmieri.  We discussed U.S.-Latin America relations and how the financial assistance given to countries in the region is distributed.  Finally, the CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), John Lansing, visited my office to introduce himself and discuss U.S. international broadcasting.  We reviewed BBG’s international broadcasting programs, particularly those that operate where the media is controlled by the state, and the affect that such programs can have on foreign policy.

Hearing

On Thursday, I participated in a Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management hearing on our ability to manage the aftermath of a cyber-attack or other failure of the electrical grid. We explored the risks, vulnerabilities, and consequences of a prolonged and widespread power outage and the responsibilities of various federal agencies in such a situation.  After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, millions of people along the east coast were left without power for days and it took disaster relief efforts almost two weeks to restore power to customers in New York and New Jersey.  I questioned FEMA Administrator Fugate about what was learned from the blackout following Sandy and how these lessons are being used to create new preventative measures in addition to improving disaster responses. 

Events

On Monday, I had the opportunity to visit students at McNair Academic High School in Jersey City.  The students are participating in the Capitol Hill Challenge Stock Market Game, which is sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Foundation.  The Challenge is an annual national financial education competition for junior high and high schools that matches Members of Congress with students competing in their district.  Student teams manage a hypothetical portfolio and invest in real stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in order to better understand the global economy and improve their understanding of issues that are impacted by legislative proposals.  I enjoyed participating in the challenge and wish the students good luck as they continue the challenge.

On Tuesday, I was honored to be recognized by the Humane Society as a Humane Advocate for my continued support of animal protection legislation.  I am thankful for all the work the Humane Society does and will continue to support their endeavors.

Finally, I had the privilege to escort Hoboken native and New Jersey Cherry Blossom Princess, Regina Arellano, at the Cherry Blossom State Societies reception.  Regina was selected to represent New Jersey in the week-long Cherry Blossom Princess Program in Washington, D.C.  She will join her fellow Cherry Blossom Princesses from across the country and participate in educational, cultural, and charitable events.  Congratulations on this achievement, Regina. 

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