Washington Review, December 14, 2018
This week in Washington, the House of Representatives addressed a portion of the remaining issues as the 115th Congress comes to a close. Our nation’s investment in food and nutrition programs took first priority with the passage of the Farm Bill and the United States stood up to oppressive authoritarian powers in Latin America. I was able to write letters thanking our troops serving overseas, consider foreign policy towards Africa with my House Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues, and receive updates on the Kurdish region from the Kurdish Representative to the United States.
Every five years, Congress must reauthorize the funding for essential programs tied to agriculture – from subsidies for farmers to nutritional assistance like SNAP – in a legislative package known as the Farm Bill. Unfortunately, even as the deadline for these critical programs loomed over us, this traditionally bipartisan process was disrupted when extreme, ideological measures were tacked on to the first version of the Farm Bill.
From severe cuts in SNAP benefits to proposals undermining the Clean Water Act, I could not support a bill that went against my beliefs and was so damaging to not only our district, but communities around the country. I voted No on May 18, 2018 and again on June 21, 2018 to this first version of H.R. 2, the legislative title of the Farm Bill, which in the end passed the House by a vote of 213-211.
Fortunately, after the Senate passed their own version of the Farm Bill and conferenced with the House, these extreme measures were stripped and the bill returned to its core purpose of renewing the federal programs proven to work. This Wednesday, I was proud to vote in favor of this new version of H.R. 2, which safeguards funding for the SNAP program, expands The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), maintains protections for endangered species, authorizes funding to combat the opioid epidemic, and invests $300 million in disease prevention research. The amended Farm Bill passed the Senate by a vote of 87-13 and passed the House by a vote of 369 – 47. President Trump is now expected to sign the Farm Bill into law.
After years of hard work from a bipartisan group of leaders spanning both the House and the Senate, I am proud that a bill I have worked on, H.R. 1918, the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality (NICA) Act, is now headed to the President’s desk for signature. The NICA Act imposes strict measures to curb financial corruption and support free, fair elections in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo, and their oppressive regime will no longer be able to hide behind international financial institutions in their grab for more power. Passing the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a unanimous vote, the NICA Act is a strong signal to Nicaragua and the international community that the United States stands for the freedom and human rights of Nicaraguans.
Additionally, my bill H.R. 7245, the Venezuela Humanitarian Relief, Reconstruction, and Rule of Law Act of 2018, was introduced in the House on Monday. This legislation would provide desperately needed humanitarian relief for Venezuelans living under the brutal autocracy of President Maduro and advance measures to restore democracy. Serving on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, my colleagues and I have listened for years to heartbreaking testimony on the crisis taking place in Venezuela. It is time for the United States to stand up for the rights of the Venezuelan people.
On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee received testimony on the relationships that the United States is building with African nations. America must build strong partnerships with these countries that encourage international development, protect human rights, and end corruption. I questioned representatives of the Trump Administration on how our country plans to actively foster these relationships especially in the face of derogatory comments from the President. Later that day, I met with Her Excellency Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdish Representative to the United States. We discussed pressing developments in the region and international security priorities.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.