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Washington Review, April 16, 2021

Apr 16, 2021
Washington Review

This week, I chaired a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing regarding migration from Central America. I also cosponsored several pieces of legislation focused on replacing lead pipes in public housing, expanding eligibility for SNAP benefits, and funding the transition of public buildings to sustainable energy use. I also signed on to letters urging the establishment of a new fund for pandemic preparedness, strengthening protections for unaccompanied children who cross the border, ensuring government records documenting abuses and misconduct in our immigration system are not destroyed.

 

 

Hearing

On Wednesday, I chaired a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing focused on the root causes of migration from Central America, particularly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Endemic corruption, poverty, inequality, insecurity, and lack of economic opportunity continue to plague the region and people are hurting. The Subcommittee was joined by two witnesses from the Biden administration: U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zúñiga, and U.S. Agency for International Development Deputy Assistant Administrator, Peter Natiello. I spoke of the importance of centering U.S. assistance to local organizations working at the community level to address the push factors driving migration and on the importance of fighting corruption in the region. I also commended the Biden administration for re-committing U.S. efforts in the region that address these core drivers of migration because Central Americans deserve achieve a life of dignity and opportunity in their home country.

 

Cosponsored Legislation

This week I joined on to several pieces of legislation including:

H.R. 1993, the Energy Efficient Public Buildings Act, introduced by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). This bill would provide $4 billion over four years to fund energy efficient retrofits in public buildings across the country, including libraries, hospitals, and state and local government owned building through direct grant funding.

The Amputation Reduction and Compassion (ARC) Act, introduced by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ). This legislation would require Medicaid, Medicare, and health insurance plans to cover preemptive screenings for individuals with high-risk of peripheral artery disease, which can often lead to amputations if not detected early enough.  

The Lead Abatement for Families Act, introduced by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL). This bill requires Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify all public housing and federally assisted housing units with lead services lines within 2 years and report its findings to Congress. It also authorizes HUD to make grants to public housing agencies and owners of federally assisted housing to cover eligible costs of removing and replacing lead pipes. Finally, it authorizes funds for grants: $90 million for Fiscal Year 2022, $80 million for FY2023 and $80 million for FY2024.

H.R. 1753, the Improving Access to Nutrition Act, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), which repeals certain work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Specifically, this bill would repeal requirements that disqualify able-bodied adults from eligibility to participate in SNAP.

 

Letters

I joined a letter to President Biden led by Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), about establishing a new fund for global health security and pandemic preparedness. We also urged the President to create a new fund for global health security and pandemic preparedness, as specified in the Global Health Security Act. Specifically, this letter asked for a $2 billion commitment to the fund.

This week I joined Rep. Susan Wild in a letter to Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin expressing alarm about the Sunday, March 7, 2021 massacre in the Philippines that is being referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” Nine human rights defenders were brutality murdered by Philippine military and police forces across the country. The attack on March 7 followed previous attacks made in Panay, Negros, Metro-Manila, and Northeastern Mindanao.

I also joined Rep. Pramila Jayapal and more than 65 of my colleagues in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Cindy Huang, and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Senior Official Troy Miller urging the Biden administration to continue to strengthen protections of unaccompanied children and make key investments in reforms in the border where migrants are received as well as the shelter system to ensure children are cared for appropriately.

Finally, I joined Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Hank Johnson’s letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, CBP Senior Official Troy Miller,  USCIS Acting Director Tae D. Johnson, and Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero calling on the Department of Homeland Security and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) ensure government records documenting serious abuse, neglect, and misconduct within the immigration system are not destroyed.

Current Washington D.C. Office Status

My staff continue to work remotely during this time. Please know we continue to monitor our phone system, so while we are unable to speak directly with you, we manage all voice messages left. If you reached out to us through phone or e-mail, please expect an e-mail response. Be sure to check your spam or junk folders for a response from our office. We appreciate your understanding as we all navigate working through the pandemic.

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment has been extended through the remainder of the year . This year, instead of using the federal marketplace, New Jersey will switch to their own state-run marketplace. In order to browse health care plans you can visit: www.nj.gov/getcoverednj. Here you will be able to compare available plans, review financial assistance options, and select a plan that is best for you. This new marketplace is easy to use and helps to clearly identify plans that will be most beneficial to you. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial we leave no one behind and that everyone has access to affordable health care. If you need health care, be sure to visit the site. 

With cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise across the country, and in New Jersey, it is imperative we remain vigilant and safe. Please continue to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing when possible. As always, please exercise caution if meeting with loved ones, and take necessary measures to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and our community. Working together, we can help slow the spread of this virus. Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.