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Washington Review, August 16, 2021

Aug 16, 2021
Washington Review

Last week, I cosponsored legislation to ensure that students have access to a computer and the internet for online learning. I also joined a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture to urge better protection of animals during emergencies and a letter to Congressional leadership to urge for more funding to be provided for electric vehicles in the reconciliation package.

Cosponsored Legislation

Last week, I cosponsored H.R. 4663, the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). Last school year, an estimated 40,000 students in New Jersey lacked a computer or internet connection needed to engage in online learning. Although schools have reopened for in-person learning, the digital divide continues to affect students’ ability to complete their homework or engage in extracurricular learning. This bill would provide $40 billion over five years to extend the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund so that schools and libraries can continue supporting distance learning after the pandemic. This funding would ensure that elementary and secondary schools and libraries can keep providing Wi-Fi, and internet-enabled devices to students, staff, and patrons.

Letters

Last week, I joined my colleagues in a letter led by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) to Secretary of Agriculture Bill Vilsack. The letter urges the Secretary to finalize a proposed rule that would require entities regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have contingency plans in place to safely evacuate and care for animals in emergency situations.

I also signed onto a letter led by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) to urge Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer to include additional funding for electric vehicles and related expenses in the reconciliation package. The current Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) contains $10-$13 billion for dedicated investments in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, which falls well short of the $174 billion outlined in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan needed to support electric vehicle production and adoption. Electric vehicles are an important aspect of the President’s approach for sustainable and energy efficient transportation, and a much larger investment is needed in order to make electric vehicles a reliable and affordable option for all Americans. 

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.

Vaccination Efforts

Vaccines are now available to all individuals 12 and older who live, work, or study in New Jersey. To find your nearest vaccine location and make an appointment, please visit Vaccines.gov. 

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.

Open Enrollment

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 a health care plan, be sure to visit the site.

Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge is now open for submissions and all middle school and high school students are encouraged to participate. To fosters students’ interest in STEM and computer science, this annual coding challenge tasks students with developing an original app, covering any theme and using any platform or coding language they choose. Winners of the challenge may be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Building. Students can submit their app design until November 1, 2021. Please see CongressionalAppChallenge.us for more information and to register.