Washington Review, April 20, 2018
Last week in Washington, I marked up several bills in the Foreign Affairs Committee, attended a Foreign Affairs hearing on the Middle East, and discussed updates on the Balkans at a Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing. I also met with numerous groups this week and cosponsored legislation to restore the National Park System and urge the firing of Scott Pruitt.
At the beginning of the week, the Foreign Affairs Committee marked up four bills relating to food aid, trade, democracy promotion and global development. One of these bills, H.R. 5129, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018, would reauthorize the Global Food Security Act, which establishes a global food strategy for U.S. foreign assistance. All of the bills considered were passed out of Committee unanimously, and now await further action on the House floor.
Later in the week, the Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing discussed the ever changing situation in the Middle East with the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. We discussed the tumultuous political landscape and the role of the United States in promoting peace and stability. I questioned the panelists on the growing threat to Israel as Iran continues its build-up of arms and forces on the border. I also asked about U.S. efforts being made to stop arms sales to North Korea and what more can be done to ensure the protection of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
I also participated in a Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing where panelists discussed the Dayton Accords and the progress of Bosnia and the Western Balkans. I asked the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs if the Dayton Accords needed reforms after 22 years.
First, I spoke to members of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey, the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), and the Communications Workers about the critical need for investment in our nation’s infrastructure. As our infrastructure continues to deteriorate, the Administration continues to seek devastating cuts to critical infrastructure programs such as TIGER and Capital Investment Grants.
Additionally, I welcomed undergraduate students from Rutgers to share with me their stories about how federal financial aid has enabled them to pursue higher education opportunities. I am committed to maintaining the Federal Pell Grant program, which is the single largest source of grant aid for higher education provided by the federal government.
I also met with members of the Armenian Assembly of America to discuss my support for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. Later, I discussed the future of Venezuela and Cuba relations with European Union officials.
The American Waterways Operators visited my Washington D.C. office this week to discuss the importance of U.S. commercial vessels in growing the U.S. economy and trade. After, I met with Bio NJ members to discuss the importance of the bioscience industry to the state and the national economy.
I was pleased to welcome Union County Manager Ed Oatman to my office this week to review the projects underway in Union County and the importance of continued funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides communities with the flexible resources needed to address their unique concerns.
The Co-Chairs of the Global Americans working group were in Washington D.C. this week to discuss how the United States may continue to further our Western Hemisphere relations. As ranking member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, I know how essential the relationship with our neighbors is to regional security and stability.
Finally, I spoke with representatives from the Caribbean Central American Action who reviewed with me the current challenges facing banking and financial systems in the Caribbean and Central America.
This week, I cosponsored a resolution with 170 of my colleagues in the House and Senate calling for the ouster of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt has been mired in controversy as we continue to uncover repeated ethics violations, gross misuses of taxpayer dollars, and conflicts of interest that cripple the EPA’s mission. It is time for Pruitt to resign from his position.
I also cosponsored H.R. 2584, the National Park Service (NPS) Legacy Act of 2017. This bill would establish a fund from undesignated federal mineral revenues to conduct maintenance on NPS projects.