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Washington Review, December 16, 2019

Dec 16, 2019
Washington Review

Last week in Washington, I introduced two bills, H.R. 5404 and H.R. 5426, and voted on legislation to lower the price of prescription drugs and reinvest in our public health system. I also attended a House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on the Boeing 737 MAX and chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on Haiti.

Legislation

Last week I introduced two pieces of legislation, the CENSUS Resources Act and the SAFE Scooters Act. H.R. 5404, the Coordinating Efficiency in Nonprofit, State, and U.S. (CENSUS) Resources Act commissions a landmark study into national census strategy. Federal dollars are not the only resources in census operations. Reaching every American household requires a support network spanning, states, local governments, and nonprofits. I believe an evaluation of coordination and best practices among this network will help us create more the most successful, equitable census moving forward. H.R. 5405 is currently under review by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

H.R. 5426, the Standardized Assessment For Electric (SAFE) Scooters Act, commissions a study of unsafe electric scooter practices to best inform government guidelines. Instances have been reported of operation under the influence of alcohol, in violation of traffic laws, and in ways that endanger riders, pedestrians, and other motorists. It is important for our community’s safety that we understand the best regulation of these useful transportation assets. H.R. 5426 is currently under review by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

On Thursday, the House considered H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019, introduced jointly by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). H.R. 3 is historic legislation to reduce health care cost burdens on seniors. H.R. 3 restructures Medicare Part D to cap annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 and establishes a rebate program for Medicare Part B and D drug prices that rise above inflation. Additionally, the legislation authorizes tools for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate overall lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D. It also invests funds in innovative research and ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. I voted for this legislation, which passed by a vote of 230-192. H.R. 3 now awaits consideration by the Senate.

Jersey City

I was shocked and saddened last Tuesday by the horrific events that took place in Jersey City. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims and with the brave men and women of the Jersey City Police Department. Thank you to all first responders who served our community and I will continue to fight against indiscriminate violence in our society.

On Friday, I joined Governor Murphy, and Senator Menendez for an interfaith roundtable in Jersey City. Anti-Semitism has anywhere in our country and we must always stand up for our neighbors when they are confronted with hate of any kind.

Transportation

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure convened a hearing on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification process in the wake of the Boeing 737 MAX disasters. I questioned FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson specifically on his agencies failure to heed warnings from Ed Pierson, who oversaw a portion of the 737 MAX final assembly in Washington. On three occasions, attorneys representing Mr. Pierson contacted the FAA to warn of “chaotic and rapidly deteriorating factory conditions,” but the FAA did nothing.

Mr. Pierson attended the hearing and I thanked him in person later that day for his vigilance. I also asked Administrator Dickson to publicly commit to an investigation into FAA procedures surrounding Mr. Pierson’s warnings.

Foreign Affairs

On Tuesday, International Human Rights Day, I chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on human rights and anti-corruption in Haiti. I am very concerned about the human rights situation in Haiti and the theft of public resources by government officials through the Petrocaribe program. Regional experts and leaders in Haiti’s civil society testified to best inform U.S. policy towards Haiti.

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 FacebookTwitter, and website.